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March 16, 2000     (512) 463-0300
Photo: Senator Chris Harris during a public hearing on Lyme disease and other tick-born illnesses
Senate Administration Committee Chair Chris Harris of Arlington during a public hearing on Lyme disease and other tick-born illnesses. Harris contracted the disease and has firsthand knowledge of the problems resulting in diagnosis and treatment.

Senate Committee on Administration Meets at State Capitol to Address Lyme Disease Issues

AUSTIN--The Senate Committee on Administration met today, Thursday 16, 2000, at the State Capitol. Committee members include Senators Chris Harris of Arlington, serving as chair, Frank Madla of San Antonio, serving as vice-chair, Rodney Ellis of Houston, Florence Shapiro of Plano and John Whitmire of Houston.

The committee has been assigned to: "Study the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses in Texas with a focus on issues relating to prevention and treatment. The study should consider the effectiveness of state education efforts to raise awareness within the medical community and among the general public about the threat of tick-borne illnesses. The study should also examine possible options to improve the type and amount of information available to health care practitioners and the general public in identifying symptoms of tick-borne illnesses and seeking or administering appropriate care.

Today the committee specifically addressed Lyme disease problems and issues in Texas. Topics of interest at today's meeting included medical care for those infected with Lyme disease, Lyme disease statistics in Texas, an overview of symptoms and conditions of Lyme disease, and Lyme disease occurrences in Texas.

After being infected, most Lyme disease suffers experience fatigue, migraine headaches, fever(s), and severe muscle aches and pain. Later in the meeting, public testimonials would stress the frustration they have experienced with hospitals and doctors in trying to receive a diagnosis and treatment. There were 583 cases of Lyme disease confirmed, out of 1,100 possible, last year in Texas.

The Texas Department of Health, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Medical Association, Joseph J. Burrascano, Jr., M.D of New York, and the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners provided invited testimony.

A variety of emotionally charged public testimonials were also provided to the committee. After these testimonies, the committee recessed subject to call of the chair. The Senate Committee on Administration will continue to meet in a series of public hearings throughout the interim. The committee will submit its findings as a report to be used in developing legislation for consideration by the 77th Legislature, which will convene in January of 2001.

View the hearing in RealAudio format

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