I am departing from my normal role of commenting on regulatory matters to make a direct plea to broadcasters for a public service announcement dear to my heart. May is “Lyme Disease Awareness Month.” It has been officially designated by many Governors and state legislatures and is recognized by Lyme patients across the USA. I ask your support in bringing awareness to all Americans about this dangerous, potentially life-changing disease and how to prevent it.
Our non-profit organization, NatCapLyme, has produced a radio and television public interest spots to increase public awareness and prevention. Please consider downloading these spots and providing them with a good PSA schedule this summer, but particularly this May when your viewers and listeners are beginning to enjoy the outdoors. The spots are available at the NatCapLyme website under the Prevention tab. Here is a direct link.
Here’s some additional background:
Lyme, with its tick-borne co-infections, is recognized as the fastest-spreading tick-borne disease in the United States. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 38,500 new cases in 2009, but acknowledge that they greatly under-count the number of cases, estimating that only one in ten cases is reported, putting the number of actual cases occurring annually at around 300,000. Notably, Lyme disease has been reported in every single state in the United States!
Despite this data, many people have hardly heard of it, or continue to believe that it is a disease danger limited to the northeast region of the U.S.
My own life was drastically affected by Lyme when my wife contracted the disease in 1993. Like many other of its victims, she was not promptly diagnosed and received treatment too late to completely overcome its effects. We became active in the patient support and advocacy community and formed the National Capital Lyme and Tick-borne Disease Association (NatCapLyme) www.natcaplyme.org
Among its activities, NatCapLyme was invited by the National Academies of Sciences, Institute of Medicine to participate in a congressionally-funded workshop on Lyme disease. Representing NatCapLyme, I twice presented comments on the Lyme patient perspective. That report was just released and provides hopeful direction for the sufferers of the chronic form of the disease. A link to that report is on the NatCapLyme website at the bottom of the welcome page. Our commissioned paper, The Human Dimension of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: The Patient Perspective, is also available from the IOM website Institute of Medicine.
In addition, I would be happy to work with anyone wishing to produce new Lyme disease awareness spots.