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Contentious Working Group Meeting Vote on CDC Posting Lyme Guidelines

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The thirteenth meeting of the Tick-Borne Disease Working Group (Working Group) was held online on April 27, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., ET. This meeting was open to the public, with request to comment accepted by April 19, 2020.

HHS Tick-Borne Disease Working Group

The Working Group reviewed the work of the Public Comment Subcommittee followed by the Federal Inventory Subcommittee. The Working Group had sent inventories with a series of questions to the federal agencies, and the Inventory Subcommittee of David Walker (Chair), Sam Donta MD, and LDA President Pat Smith developed recommendations based on gaps in agency programs/research. The WG voted on the various recommendations for each agency to be brought forward in the Working Group Report to be submitted to Congress. 

The Working Group members engaged in heated discussion regarding one recommendation “that IF the CDC posts any Lyme treatment guidelines, that they include guidelines on persistent Lyme disease.”   Pat Smith, Lyme Disease Association President, argued persuasively on behalf of the chronic Lyme patient community, in favor of this recommendation. After the vote to pass the recommendation, some members wanted to change votes. So a member moved to revote causing a long discussion on the advisability/legality of such a vote. The Working Group federal official researched the question and indicated it was a dangerous precedent.  Despite that, a revote was taken to permit a revote. It failed. So the original vote accepting the recommendation stands. Ms. Smith asked when the actual inventories would be released to the public, and after a discussion, the federal official indicated they could be.


Two Votes Taken

Recommend that IF the CDC posts any Lyme treatment guidelines, that they include guidelines on persistent Lyme disease.”  Pat Smith moved, Sam Donta, MD seconded the motion.
Vote Results  6 YES, 3 NO, 5 ABSTAIN, 1 ABSENT

Motion to have a revote on the last vote”  Scott Commins, MD moved, Eugene Shiparo seconded the motion.
Vote Results  5 YES, 6 NO, 0 ABSTAIN, 1 ABSENT


Roll Call Vote of Members

  • Captain Scott J. Cooper, PA-C (government member) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: YES  VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Angel M. Davey, PhD (government member) Tick-Borne Disease Research Program, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, U.S. Department of Defense, DoD  
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: YES  VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Dennis M. Dixon, PhD (government member) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID/NIH), HHS
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: YES  *post vote, wanted to change to Abstain  VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Sam T. Donta, MD –Professor of Medicine (ret.)  (public member)
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: YES  VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Patricia V. Smith- (public member) Lyme Disease Association, Inc.
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: YES  VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Charles Benjamin (Ben) Beard, PhD (government member) Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: NO  VOTE ON REVOTE: YES
  • Eugene David Sharpiro, MD  (public member) Yale University School of Medicine
    VOTE GUIDELINES ON RECOMMENDATION: NO  VOTE ON REVOTE: YES
  • David Hughes Walker, MD, (public member) TBDWG co-chair, UTMB Center for Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases 
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: NO  VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Scott Palmer Commins, MD, PhD (public member) – University of North Carolina
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: ABSTAIN   VOTE ON REVOTE: YES
  • CDR Todd Myers, PhD (government member) Food and Drug Administration, HHS
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: ABSTAIN  VOTE ON REVOTE: YES
  • Adablbeto (Beto) Perez de Leon, DVM, PhD (government member) Department of Agriculture (USDA), HHS
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: ABSTAIN   VOTE ON REVOTE: YES
  • Kevin R. Macaluso, PhD, MS  (government member) University of South Alabama
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: ABSTAIN   VOTE ON REVOTE: NO
  • Leigh Ann Soltysiak, MS (co-chair) (public member) Silverleaf Consulting, LLC Adjunct Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: ABSTAIN   VOTE ON REVOTE: YES
  • Leith States  (government member) Deputy Chief Medical Officer Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS
    VOTE ON GUIDELINES RECOMMENDATION: ABSENT   VOTE ON REVOTE: ABSENT

The TBDWG, received verbal comments from the public on a range of topics including:  

  • Dorothy Leland, Vice-President of Lymedisease.org presented for Phyllis Mervine, President of Lymedisease.org comments on the need for Lyme disease treatment guidelines similar to COVID-19 guidelines as posted by NIH.  She stated COVID-19 won’t stop tick season, and for Lyme disease treatments, ultimately the choice of what to do for an individual patient should be decided by the patient and their treating physician, just as it is recommended in the COVID-19 NIH treatment guidelines.
  • Lucy Barnes, Lyme advocate, presented comments on the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA’s) outdated Lyme treatment guidelines, which she stated has discredited anything, and anyone, that disrupts their status quo, often resulting in name calling and demeaning the character of both patients and their treating physicians.
  • Beth Carrison, from TBC united, commented on the unique health challenges faced by Alpha-gal patients in light of the current COVID-19 treatments. She pleaded for an urgent Health Alert to be posted in order to help protect these at risk patients.
  • Stephen Rich, professor of Microbiology at University of Mass, TickReport Lab commented on the value of tick testing and prevention messaging that accompanies their tick testing reports. He urged the CDC to review their stance against tick-testing.

The meeting concluded after updates on the status of the writing groups for each of the assigned chapters being developed for the 2020 report to Congress on federal tick-borne activities and research. The next public virtual meeting is scheduled for July 8, 2020.

LDA encourages patients, advocates, caregivers and family of Lyme disease patients to submit verbal or written comments about Lyme disease to the TBDWG for the July 8th meeting and to attend the meeting online.

Read Lymedisease.org VP, Dorothy Leland’s, Bizarre happenings at the TBD Working Group Blog here.

Read Lymedisease.org, President, Phyllis Mervine’s, NIH’s COVID-19 guidelines offer useful advice for Lyme disease, too Blog here.

Visit the HHS TBDWG webpage for more information, including how to submit verbal and written public comments.  

Click here to view information about prior TBDWG meetings.