Lawrence Andrea, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Published  June 24, 2019 

MADISON – It’s officially summer, and lawmakers are aiming to curb the growing problem of Lyme disease in the state through education and prevention efforts.

A bipartisan package of five bills would direct the state Department of Natural Resources to post signs about the tick-borne disease in public parks, sell bug spray with the powerful DEET repellent and conduct an awareness campaign each May. 

The legislation would also create an epidemiologist position in the Department of Health Services focused on the disease and establish a 16-member study committee tasked with recommending to the Legislature policy changes regarding awareness, prevention and treatment of Lyme disease.

Democratic Sen. Mark Miller of Monona, one of the sponsors of the bills, said raising awareness about Lyme disease is important not only for the public, but also for health care professionals. He said the disease often goes misdiagnosed.

“Increasing awareness … will reduce the chances of people getting Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses and increase the chances that, if you do get it, it’ll be diagnosed properly and the treatment handed to you quickly,” Miller said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Wisconsin had the fourth highest number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the country in 2017. DHS data shows the number of cases of Lyme disease has increased over the past 30 years and estimated Wisconsin had 3,105 cases in 2018.

Lyme disease is contracted through a bite from an infected deer tick. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system, according to the CDC. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash, typically in a bull’s-eye pattern.

DHS spokeswoman Jennifer Miller said permanent damage from Lyme disease is “quite rare.” But she added that long-term damage to the nervous system is possible in patients who were not treated until the later stages of the disease.

Green Bay Republican Sen. Robert Cowles, who is also sponsoring the legislation, said he has friends who have suffered from the effects of Lyme disease. He predicted that, once the bills have a public hearing, many people will come forward in support of the legislation.

“These five bills we hope will promote this issue enough so people will have a good handle on this as time goes by,” Cowles said. “It is something the Legislature has to pay attention to.”

RELATED: The Tick App offers resources to identify, remove ticks as part of Lyme disease study



Permanent damage from Lyme is NOT RARE. It can kill you.

For a refresher on the actual bills:

The bill of particular concern is bill #5 in that it:

Establishes a sixteen-member Tick-Borne Disease Study Committee to create a report for the legislature on consensus-based recommendations for policy changes on awareness, prevention, surveillance, diagnosis, reporting, and treatment of Lyme Disease.”

Nothing about Lyme/MSIDS is agreed upon except the fact early detection and treatment is imperative. If this 16 member committee is only filled with CDC/IDSA believers, patients and the doctors who dare to treat them are doomed as it will be business as usual or perhaps will make things even worse as they could further restrict a doctor’s ability to treat this. 

I’ve spoken with numerous WI LLMD’s and they feel this is huge government overreach and that this would never happen in the areas of cancer, diabetes, or other health issues.

Chronically infected patients need representation by qualified ILADS trained practitioners who understand the complexity of diagnosis, testing, and treatment. 

If you’ve been keeping up, you are privy to the fact the TBDWG is being stacked against patients at the federal level with IDSA-types and hardly any patients & advocates. I do believe this was their plan from the get-go.

Another fact is that legislation often takes 5-10 years to pan out. Many patients aren’t healthy enough for that type of stress. Getting involved with politics is like running a marathon. You can’t quit half way through. Wording that can completely change the outcome can change at the eleventh hour requiring savvy and bullish persistence.

As well-meaning as patients are, they are often very, very sick as well as uneducated about the underhanded way this has all been handled from inception. They also often don’t understand the polarity in the medical community and how legislation they create & agree to could hurt the very doctors who are properly treating Lyme/MSIDS patients.

Please contact the authors of the bills with these concerns.  They need to hear from you.

As hard as it is – think like the enemy.