Gov. Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed the Lyme Disease Information Disclosure Act of 2013 Tuesday at Claude Moore Park in Sterling. The legislation was championed by state Del. Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34) and supported by a slew of Northern Virginia lawmakers, many of whom were in attendance for the signing.
The location selection, Claude Moore Park in Sterling, was not by chance. Loudoun and Fairfax counties are ground zero in Virginia for the debilitating Lyme disease, which is frequently spread through ticks and deer.
The Lyme legislation was introduced this year by McLean Del. Barbara Comstock and sponsored by Dels. Tag Greason (R-Dist. 32), Tom Rust (R-Dist. 86), David Ramadan (R-Dist. 87) and Randy Minchew (R-Dist. 10) in the House, all of whom were in attendance during the signing with the exception of Greason.
Comstock’s measure will require state Department of Health officials to provide information to doctors regarding the possibility of inaccurate test results for Lyme – both positive and negative – and an ensuing misdiagnosis. Doctors must then disclose this information to patients.
“This is very important. Education is power. Knowledge is power,” McDonnell, a Republican, said during the ceremony. “Knowing what your options are from your physician is powerful. And this bill will help to provide more information to patients.”
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria people acquire after being bitten by ticks infected with the organism Borrelia burgdorferi. That organism is maintained in wild rodents, deer, other mammals and certain ticks, most commonly the black-legged (deer) tick, according to the Loudoun County public information office. Lyme is generally transferred to people by the bite of an infected tick.
McDonnell noted that Virginia is the first state in the nation to pass Lyme disease legislation of this type.