Shackleford recognizes the importance of Lyme disease awareness, protection

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INDIANAPOLIS – Members of the Indiana House today joined State Representative Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) in asking that the month of May be devoted to recognizing the importance of Lyme disease awareness and protection.

Shackleford’s resolution encourages an expanded effort to keep Indiana residents properly informed about Lyme disease prevention, symptom recognition, limitations in diagnostic testing, and means of treatment. It calls for the Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Indiana State Medical Association, the Indiana Hospital Association, and Indiana Lyme Connect to meet and devise a plan to better educate residents about the disease.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can result in severe and lasting effects in Hoosiers, including neuropsychiatric and musculoskeletal diseases. These can cause changes in mood, behavior, perception, memory, cognition, or judgment.

[Rep. Shackleford is pictured at right with LeAnne Barta, cofounder of Indiana Lyme Connect, an organization that helps provide Lyme disease-related education and support.]

Lyme disease is most commonly transferred through the bite of a deer tick. A person may become infected with this disease after the tick has been attached to their skin for as little as 24 to 36 hours.

Hoosiers may experience Lyme disease even if they do not have a red bull’s eyes rash that is associated with this disease.

Those who are infected may experience lingering symptoms such as debilitating fatigue, pain, and impaired cognitive function that may persist for months and possibly years.

Diagnostic techniques for this disease are not sufficiently accurate, which can result in faulty testing.

“There are around 300,000 cases of Lyme disease reported annually each year in the United States,” Shackleford said. “In Indiana alone, the number of reported Lyme disease cases has tripled in recent years. In 2016, one out of 30 dogs tested in Indiana were infected,” said Shackleford. “That is why it is imperative that we make our fellow Hoosiers aware of how common this disease is and how to spot the warning signs.”

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