House Approves Chris Smith Amendment Increasing Lyme Research by $4M

News from Congressman Chris Smith website:

Congressman Chris Smith
Congressman Chris Smith

The House of Representatives passed an amendment authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) which increases Lyme disease research funding by $4 million, for a total of $20 million, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for fiscal year 2021. The amendment, which passed July 30th, has been co-sponsored by lead Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson (MN), and Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

Rep. Smith said, “Just three years ago CDC’s Lyme budget was only $11.7 million. The increase in funding achieved through my amendment will help CDC develop better diagnostic tests for Lyme, expand tick surveillance activities across the US and strengthen the federal government’s overall strategy to combat Lyme.”

In the news release, Pat Smith, LDA President was quoted: “Rep. Smith’s funding amendment is an important step in the fight to reign in Lyme disease. The rising case numbers and increasing spread of tick-borne diseases are alarming and require a sustained focus from Congress to try to control this epidemic. We are grateful to Congressman Smith for his continued dedication to this effort and his success along with his colleagues to acquire an additional $4M in funding for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. In these difficult times for our country, that is an outstanding accomplishment.”

Earlier in July, the House agreed to another Smith Lyme Disease amendment to mandate a GAO investigation into possible use of ticks in a Department of Defense bioweapons program. Read more on LDA website

Rep. Smith introduced the House version of the recently enacted law, the TICK Act  (Ticks: Identify, Control, Knockout Act—HR 3073), which implements a national strategy to fight Lyme disease and authorizes an additional $150 million to increase funding for Lyme research, prevention and treatment programs.  Read more on LDA website

Read Rep. Chris Smith’s full news release here

Read history of the amendment on LDA website

 

 

 




Lyme Vaccine Candidate: Valneva Announces Phase 2 Study Results

 
VLA15 is the only active Lyme disease vaccine candidate in clinical development today, covering six serotypes of Lyme disease prevalent in North America and Europe.  It was granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2017.   In a few months, Valneva expects to report top-line results for the second Phase 2 study, VLA15-202.  Valneva and Pfizer are collaborating for development and commercialization of VLA15. 
 
Read full July 22, 2020 press release here
 
Read Valneva vaccine history and Lyme Disease Association’s concerns here:

https://lymediseaseassociation.org/news/lyme-disease-vaccine-collaboration-announced/

https://lymediseaseassociation.org/about-lyme/controversy/vaccine/new-vaccine-in-the-news/





Current Lyme Disease Testing Problems

Elizabeth Maloney, MD, explains current Lyme disease testing issues, including the ELISA and Western Blot, sensitivity and specificity of the testing, and the problems associated with the two-tier testing recommended by the CDC. It begins with the general characteristics of diagnostic testing

The Summary states: “Serologic testing for Lyme is inaccurate. While the inadequate sensitivity of ELISA and Western blot tests is the primary problem, imprecision and the lack of clinical validity contribute to the poor performance of two-tier testing in clinical settings. Although the high specificity of the CDC two-tier strategy works well for epidemiologic purposes, the testing sequence reduces the overall sensitivity, thereby limiting its clinical effectiveness. While positive results on two-tier testing in an untreated patient who has symptoms of Lyme disease would confirm the clinical diagnosis (and it would be a mistake to label such results as “false positives”), negative results do not rule out Lyme disease.”

See full article by Elizabeth Maloney, MD here:  Applying Basic Concepts in Laboratory Testing to Serologic Testing for Lyme Disease

See International Lyme & Associated Diseases (ILADS) Controversy & Challenges Page – Issues with Diagnosis & Diagnostics

Lyme disease testing problems by Elizabeth Maloney, MD
ELISA Test: The original whole cell sonicate test




Rep. Smith Questions COVID-19’s Impact on Lyme Patients

On April 9th, Rep. Chris Smith sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thanking them for their tireless efforts to address the Coronavirus outbreak as well as expressing his concerns about Lyme disease sufferers and their potential to be especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Smith wrote, “As you know, my home state of New Jersey has been ravaged by COVID-19—as of April 9 there have been 51,027 confirmed positive cases and 1,700 have tragically lost their lives. Thousands more have lost their lives across the entire Tri-State area which also includes New York and Connecticut. I find this outbreak especially concerning when I consider the countless individuals who live in this region who also suffer from Lyme Disease, which also considers the Tri-State Area as a ‘hotspot.’”

The letter highlighted a 2018 HHS Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (TBDWG) report to Congress indicating that there are approximately 300,000 new cases of tick-borne disease annually in the US. Smith warned this number is likely higher and a press release from his office states that an estimated 40,000 of these cases originate in New Jersey.

“I remain deeply concerned about what impact COVID-19 and the Coronavirus outbreak will have on the countless Americans suffering from Lyme Disease and other related coinfections,” Smith continued. “Does the National Institutes of Health believe Lyme Disease, and other tickborne diseases, are considered underlying conditions which put individuals at higher risk for COVID-19?”

Since 1993 Smith has consistently worked to address the needs of the Lyme disease community including authoring comprehensive amendments and legislation such as the Lyme Disease Initiative Act of 1998 and more recently, The Tick Act, which creates a “new whole-of-government” national strategy to combat Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Read Congressman Smith’s letter to NIH and HHS. 

Read a Press Release about Congressman Smith’s letter.




Rodent-Targeted Bait Vaccine Shows Decrease in Lyme Disease Transmission

Photo credit James L. Occi (PhD candidate) LDA Scientific & Professional Advisory Board

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and US Biologic, Inc. released the publication of a field trial study showing the effectiveness of an orally-delivered anti-Lyme vaccine that targets the white-footed mouse, the major wildlife source of Lyme disease.

The study took place in the residential area of Redding, CT, over a three-year time period and showed substantial decreases in the number of infected mice. One year into the study, test sites that had been treated with the vaccine showed a 13X greater decrease in blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis, the primary vector associated with the spread of disease) infected with Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease) compared to control sites (i.e., 26% drop versus 2% drop).

“Fewer infected ticks mean less infection in the field overall,” says Dr. Kirby C. Stafford, Chief Scientist and State Entomologist, “So the decrease would be greater year-over-year that the vaccine is applied.”

A second effect, which has been observed in previous laboratory-based studies showed that the vaccine causes the mice to generate antibodies and therefore previously infected ticks act as a ‘xenodiagnostic marker’ of vaccine impact, meaning once they ingest the antibodies, while feeding on vaccinated mice, the ticks then become ‘cleared’ of infection.

Dr. Scott C. Williams, Agricultural Scientist and co-author of the study verified that when non-infected mice feed on vaccine-coated pellets, they are then protected from the Borrelia burgdorferi infection. “Non-infected ticks, therefore, cannot pass the disease to other animals, including humans” he says.

The study’s findings were published in the peer-reviewed publication, Experimental and Applied Acarology. Click here to view the press release from The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.




Congressman Chris Smith Press Release – 2018 Tick-Borne Disease Working Group Report Confirms Lyme is Spreading, Time for Action is Now

Smith HeadFirst biennial report to Congress gives blueprint for federal response

2018 Tick-Borne Disease Working Group Report Confirms Lyme is Spreading, Time for Action is Now

Washington, Nov 14, 2018 | Matt Hadro ((202) 225-3765)

The 2018 Tick-Borne Disease Working Group Report to Congress—the very first report by the new HHS Working Group—confirms what Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and other advocates have long warned of, that incidents of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are increasing and that more federal attention to the problem is needed, Smith said on Wednesday.

Click here for full Press Release from the office of Congressman Chris Smith




Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Announces Higher than Ever Lyme Cases

In a press release by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on the state of tick-borne diseases in the US, CDC introduced its new platform for reporting Lyme disease statistics. The release indicates that there has been an increase in all tick-borne diseases, not just Lyme disease, and that it is the highest total annual number of Lyme cases ever reported at 42,743 cases, and a total of all reported tick-borne diseases of 59,349, which includes Lyme, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, and Powassan virus.

In a press release by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on the state of tick-borne diseases in the US, CDC introduced its new platform for reporting Lyme disease statistics. The release indicates that there has been an increase in all tick-borne diseases, not just Lyme disease, and that it is the highest total annual number of Lyme cases ever reported at 42,743 cases, and a total of all reported tick-borne diseases of 59,349, which includes Lyme, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, and Powassan virus.

The Lyme Disease Association, Inc. reminds the public that Lyme is underreported by a factor of 10, therefore, 427,430 cases of Lyme disease probably occurred in 2017 in the U.S. alone.

Click here for CDC Release

Announcement by CDC in Vital Signs Monthly Report

 




Senate Approves $1 Million Investment To Combat Lyme Across New York State

nys senate logo224x224FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 http://www.nysenate.gov  SENATE APPROVES $1 MILLION INVESTMENT TO  COMBAT LYME ACROSS NEW YORK STATE  Historic Levels of Funding Build Upon the Senate’s Commitment to Increasing Public Awareness, Treatment, and Prevention of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses. The New York State Senate today approved a resolution to provide a record $1 million to help fight the scourge of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (TBDs) throughout the state.

nys senate logo224x224FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, June 19, 2018
http://www.nysenate.gov

SENATE APPROVES $1 MILLION INVESTMENT TO 
COMBAT LYME ACROSS NEW YORK STATE
Historic Levels of Funding Build Upon the Senate’s Commitment to 
Increasing Public Awareness, Treatment, and Prevention of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses

The New York State Senate today approved a resolution to provide a record $1 million to help fight the scourge of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases (TBDs) throughout the state. The new funding will help support a wide variety of local investments identified by the Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases to increase education, research, prevention, and treatment options, and combat the ongoing increase in TBDs throughout New York.

The Senate Majority – and specifically the Task Force – led the charge in securing this historic level of funding in the 2018-19 state budget. Based on the Task Force’s recommendations, the final budget restores $400,000 in Executive Budget cuts and includes $600,000 in new funding for a total of $1 million.

Senator Sue Serino, Chair of the Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases, said, “With the State Senate successfully securing an unprecedented $1 million in this year’s budget to bolster awareness, prevention and research initiatives, we are sending a strong message to New Yorkers who have spent years grappling with the devastating impacts of Lyme and tick-borne diseases. This critical funding will play a direct role in helping us to combat the spread of Lyme and TBDs in the state, and with the Hudson Valley sitting at the epicenter of this epidemic, I am especially proud to have secured funding that will go directly to our local community. I thank Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate’s Health Committee, who has partnered with me to continue building momentum on this important issue. Working together with partners at all levels, we can ensure that New York has an effective statewide action plan in place to empower patients and better protect residents against the scourge of Lyme and TBDs.”

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-C-I, Port Jefferson) said, “I am pleased that the Senate was able to secure $1 million for Lyme and Tick Borne Disease (TBD) funding. My colleagues and I fought hard to secure this funding, recognizing the importance of fighting the spread of Lyme and TBD’s throughout the state. My district is particularly hard hit, especially on the East End of Long Island. This money will allow for the continuation of the highly successful Tick Borne Disease Center at Southampton Hospital, a four poster program on Shelter Island directly targeting the spread of ticks from the deer population, and the creation of a new state-of-the-art infectious disease lab at Stony Brook University.”

Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury) said, “I represent a beautiful region of New York State and we want people outdoors, enjoying nature.  But the fear of contracting Lyme Disease is increasingly a deterrent and that’s a shame. My experience is that the statistics of reported cases fall short of what is actually happening.  A mere mention of Lyme disease among a group of people and you immediately hear horror stories of misdiagnosis and costly long-term treatments. The good news is we are making progress and the Senate task force is playing a major role. We’ve secured funding and spearheaded legislation. We have taken our direction from the public we serve, from those leading the effort to improve diagnosis and treatment and from the incredible insight of patients themselves. This additional funding will make an impact in the North Country and I am very grateful to have helped secure it as part of this year’s budget.”

Highlights of the resolution passed today include:

·        Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Inc. – $192,000 to research community-based prevention methods by continuing and expanding “The Tick Project,” a five-year research project. The funding will help determine whether neighborhood-based prevention can reduce human cases of Lyme and other TBDs.
·        Stony Brook University – $175,000 to open a state-of-the art infectious disease laboratory, which will have an insectary dedicated solely for work on ticks. The laboratory will be open to Stony Brook scientists and others as a regional facility with unique research capabilities. The funds will be used to support activities in the laboratory and new research on TBDs.
·        Cornell University – $130,000 to study the distribution of ticks and the diseases they carry in various parts of the state through the Tick Outreach and Surveillance Project for New York. Run through the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program at Cornell University, the research will primarily focus on the spread of ticks by species within certain counties. Other areas of study include ways to reduce human exposure to TBDs, tick management workshops, and best practices in schools, camps, parks, and places where people gather outdoors.
·        New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) – $112,000 to increase public awareness throughout New Yorkthrough eight to 10 regional educational lectures. The informational seminars will focus on community awareness, best practices for TBD investigation, tick surveillance, and disease prevention to local parts of the state heavily impacted by the effects of Lyme and TBDs.
·        SUNY Adirondack – $100,000 for laboratory research on lesser-known TBDs, including infectious diseases known to be comorbid with Lyme disease, such as Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and Powassen virus. The work would help provide much needed information about the rates of these coinfections in people with Lyme disease in New York.
·        Southampton Hospital – $75,000 to fund the Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center, which helps doctors in multiple disciplines collaborate with researchers and community outreach experts to inform and treat individuals from across the region.
·        New York State Department of Health – $60,000 to increase the number of tick collection sites in New York, and the number of ticks tested for pathogens statewide. The funding will also be used to hire temporary staff to assist with sampling and testing, as well as targeting of educational messages in a more efficient manner.
·        SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry – $50,000 to monitor seasonal variations of ticks in Western and Central New York to help provide a better understanding of how disease transmission risks are changing. The study will also provide public information to better explain the risks of tick exposure.
·        Paul Smith’s College – $30,000 to study the emergence of TBDs in the North Country by continuing and expanding academic studies that monitor ticks and TBDs.
·        Cornell Cooperative Extension – $26,000 for a series of regional Lyme and TBD forums to be hosted throughout the state. The forums will help provide the public with information on tick identification, tick bite prevention, Lyme disease and co-infection awareness, impact on pets and livestock, and health resources that are available for individuals who have been bitten by a tick.
·        New York State Department of Health – $25,000 to continue database mining, which would include various projects associated with Lyme carditis, as well as deaths associated with Lyme and other TBDs.
·        Town of Shelter Island – $25,000 to help combat the spread of ticks on Shelter Island, which is one of the worst hit areas of the public health crisis. The town has developed a four-poster program to stem the spread of ticks associated with the deer population. The town has built and installed four-poster stations, to remove ticks from deer across the Island, and this funding would maintain and expand the efforts of this critical initiative.

In addition to the $1 million announced today, the Senate was instrumental earlier this year in passing a package of bills aimed at combating Lyme and TBDs, based on the recommendations of the Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases.

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Contagion® Interviews Pat Smith to Mark Lyme Awareness Month

Contagion*Logo used by permissionLDA thanks Contagion® for taking time to raise awareness regarding Lyme and tick-borne diseases.  They have provided several avenues for LDA to promote educational materials through articles, video segments and now a press release for mass distribution.

Click here for Press Release

Contagion*Logo used by permissionLDA thanks Contagion® for taking time to raise awareness regarding Lyme and tick-borne diseases.  They have provided several avenues for LDA to promote educational materials through articles, video segments and now a press release for mass distribution.  

CRANBURY, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In recognition of Lyme disease awareness month, Contagion®, the nation’s leading digital and print publication that provides practitioners and specialists working in the infectious disease field with disease-specific information, interviewed Pat Smith, president of Lyme Disease Association, Inc, to better understand current issues surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease….

Click here for Full Press Release




Dr. Maloney on Access Minnesota Radio – Lyme Disease in MN

Listen to radio show “Lyme Disease in Minnesota” on Access Minnesota. Dr. Elizabeth Maloney discusses the symptoms and dangers of Lyme disease and how best to prevent infection. Dr. Maloney mentions the LDA and the upcoming LDA/Columbia Scientific Conference on the show.

Click link to hear radio show: http://www.accessminnesotaonline.com/2017/05/17/lyme-disease-in-mn/

Listen to radio show “Lyme Disease in Minnesota” on Access Minnesota. Dr. Elizabeth Maloney discusses the symptoms and dangers of Lyme disease and how best to prevent infection. Dr. Maloney mentions the LDA and the upcoming LDA/Columbia Scientific Conference on the show.

Click link to hear radio show: http://www.accessminnesotaonline.com/2017/05/17/lyme-disease-in-mn/

Dr. Elizabeth Maloney is a Family Practice Physician and the President of the Partnership for Tick-Borne Diseases Education.

Access Minnesota is a 30-minute public affairs program that airs weekly on radio and monthly on TV. Each episode focuses on the issues, people and stories that impact the state.