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No time to waste when fighting Lyme disease

With snow on the ground, it might appear to be an odd time to bring up ticks. But the suffering these small insects cause continues for years for thousands of victims.

Minnesota had 950 confirmed cases of Lyme diseases in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But those numbers are only the reported cases of the tick-borne disease. The fear is that many people are apparently being misdiagnosed with other conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

CBS reported in 2016 Actor and songwriter Kris Kristofferson, now 80, was one of those who were misdiagnosed. Kristoffferson struggled with memory problems in recent years and was told he had Alzheimer’s disease. CBS News said Kristofferson was eventually tested for lyme disease, which can cause neurological problems, including memory issues and what some describe as “brain fog,” as well as a broad range of other symptoms.

The CDC is also reporting that from 2004 to 2018, U.S. cases of tick-borne diseases more than doubled from 22,527 to 47,743. That statistic was provided by U.S. Senators Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine in a press release Monday. The senators called on the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to urge quick implementation of the Kay Hagen Tick Act that they authored. The bill was signed into law in December and is supposed to improve research, prevention, diagnostics and treatment for tick-borne disease.

“The new law is named after the late Senator Kay Hagan, who tragically died from Powassan virus, a tick-borne disease this past October. The law provides a unified approach with leadership at the federal level and resources at the local level to combat the escalating burden of tick and vector-borne diseases and disorders in the United States,” wrote Smith and Collins. “As authors of this bipartisan legislation, we request that you prioritize its implementation to better protect Americans from the significant and growing threat of tick-borne diseases.”

Smith and Collins did the work to swiftly get this bipartisan legislation through Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. We urge DHHS to quickly act to help those already suffering from Lyme disease and hopefully prevent future misdiagnoses.

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