LDA/Columbia Conference Sold Out Success; Congressman Makes Surprise Appearance

26 October 2017

The Lyme Disease Asso2017 LDAConf BaranchuckAdrian Baranchuk, MD, FACC, FRCPC, FCCS giving talk on Lyme Carditis and Management of High Degree AV Block, 2017 LDA/Columbia Conferenceciation (LDA)/Columbia University Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases 18th annual conference in Philadelphia was a sellout and provided attendees with not only 20 distinguished faculty but also a surprise visit by a Washington, DC, dignitary whose record on human rights and Lyme work is unparalleled.

Attendees were presented with new data by 20 faculty members over two days in the areas of Lyme disease, newly emerging Powassan Virus, Rickettsial diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever which is increasing in the Southwest, and newcomer Rickettsia phillipi from the Pacific Coast. Babesia and Borrelia miyamotoi were also discussed as were ticks that transmit many tick-borne diseases (TBD). The role of big data in the process of government support for Lyme & TBD was also presented. The panel on chronic Lyme generated much discussion.

Late Saturday afternoon, Lyme Disease Association (LDA) President Pat Smith introduced a distinguished visitor, a Congressman who drove in from NYC− where he spent the week at the UN as US Representative to the UN delegation− to say some words of encouragement to those who are fighting TBD as researchers, physicians, advocates, and patients. (Click for intro of Congressman by LDA President)

Congressman Christopher HRep. Chris Smith and Pat Smith shaking hands at LDA Conference podiumLDA President, Pat Smith introduces Congressman Christopher Smith (NJ), as Conference Director, Brian Fallon looks on,    2017 LDA/Columbia Conference. Smith (NJ-4) spoke of his introduction to Lyme through the work of Pat Smith, LDA President, who first approached him in 1992 to take action against the disease. Subsequent to that meeting, he held a DC meeting with top officials of CDC and NIH, who listened to P. Smith discuss problems her children were having with the disease and also the extent of the disease in her school district where she was a Board of Education member. Working with her and the LDA, he indicated he has been able to get language and monies passed the House which later became law, helped to get 21st Century Cures Act language through in 2016, providing for the formation of the Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group now being formulated by the Department of Health & Human Services. Nominees are in the process of being appointed at this time.

Scientists reported to the LDA after the conference that they were able to form a number of collaborations at the conference with other researchers on TBD, surely helpful to moving the field of Lyme and TBD forward by providing opportunities to improving patient health and minimizing the spread of disease. Also, many physicians and scientists told LDA that they did not often have the experience of attending conferences where researchers, physicians and patients/advocates attended and asked questions. They found the input from those diverse sources invaluable and also commented that the lectures were of high quality and imparted significant new information, enabling many to consider making changes in their practices.

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