Tick-borne diseases can cause serious illnesses, including Lyme disease. Prevalent throughout New Jersey, ticks are found in wooded and grassy areas. Here’s what to after a family hike to protect yourself against tick bites. Russ Zimmer

‘Hopefully it breaks this gridlock that we have on Lyme disease,’ said Wall resident Pat Smith, a leading advocate and a member of the panel.

 

That was the most pressing recommendation of a report to Congress by a federal working group convened to address tick-borne diseases. The 100-page report, the first of three over a four-year period, is crucial because it represents consensus on how to deal with Lyme after decades of disagreement among government officials and medical experts.

The discord, advocates for Lyme patients say, caused an explosion of cases throughout the country.

“It’s a good first step,” Wall resident Pat Smith, a member of the 14-person working group, told the Asbury Park Press. “Hopefully we will break this gridlock that we have on Lyme disease. Patients are still having difficulties and doctors are having problems trying to treat them. I hope this will be an eye-opener for Congress.”

Smith is a leading advocate for Lyme disease patients. In the 1980s, Lyme afflicted two of her daughters, one of whom missed four years of school. She founded the nonprofit Lyme Disease Association and has traveled the country to raise awareness.

“It’s pretty exciting that this report has been issued,” she said. “Now the big question is, what is Congress going to do in light of these recommendations?”