April 15, 2011
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s appointed Lyme Disease Task Force will conduct its final hearing on Monday, April 25 at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, VA. Public Education is the topic as the Task Force collects expert testimony to help the governor address a rapidly evolving Lyme disease epidemic. Residents from five regions of the state told their personal stories of frustration and loss to the Task Force in March, and many common themes emerged that urgently need solutions.
The panel of state officials and key professionals will hear experts testify on the broad range of educational needs. In addition to learning how residents can do their homework, the Task Force will gather information on what schools, parks, community groups, public officials, legislators and medical professionals need to know about Lyme disease and how the information can best be communicated. According to Task Force Chairman Michael Farris, “Lyme disease is dramatically misdiagnosed, and there is too much denial by doctors that chronic Lyme exists.”
Governor McDonnell has designated May as Lyme Awareness Month in Virginia, a reflection of an unpleasant and growing reality in the picturesque state; ticks are passing Lyme and other diseases at an alarming rate. “Unfortunately, most cases of Lyme disease in children can be traced to normal outdoor play,” according to Fairfax County.
The Virginia Department of Health states that the number of human Lyme disease cases in Virginia has increased substantially over the past several years, increasing from 357 reported cases in 2006 to 908 cases reported in 2009. According to the CDC, though, numbers may be ten times as high. The hearing is free and open to the public. It will be held from 12:00 to 3:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisor’s Auditorium at the Fairfax County Government Center at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035.
(See below for directions and list of speakers.)
Directions from I-66:
* Exit 55B, onto Fairfax County Parkway North (Route 7100)
* Right turn at light onto Fair Lakes Parkway East
* Right turn at light onto Monument Drive
* Right turn at light onto Government Center Parkway
* Government Center to your left
Visitor parking is free and is found both to the left and right of the main entrance.
The Board of Supervisor’s Auditorium is entered at the rear of the main lobby level on the right.
Jorge R. Arias, Ph.D., Entomologist and Disease Carrying Insects Program (DCIP) Supervisor Fairfax County Department of Health
Peter F. Demitry, M.D., M.P.H. Haymarket, Virginia
Graham J. Hickling, Ph.D. Director, Center for Wildlife Health University of Tennessee
Robert C Bransfield, M.D., D.L.F.A.P.A
President, International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)
Psychiatrist, Red Bank, New Jersey Holly Gaff, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center
Old Dominion University Wayne Hynes, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences Old Dominion University
2 lay witnesses will also testify.