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Lyme Disease Forum On April 9



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Lyme Disease Forum On April 9

The Newtown Rotary Club, in conjunction with the Newtown Lyme Disease Task Force, will present  a program on Lyme disease prevention and identification on Monday, April 9, from 7 to 9 pm at the Fireside Inn. Admission is free and open to the public.

There will be free testing for Lyme Disease for persons aged 18 to 60 from 3 to 8 pm. Call 212-543-6510 for an appointment. Walk-ins also will be accepted. Testing is also for those who have had Lyme Disease in the past and are now having problems with memory. Those persons may qualify for a National Institute of Health (NIH) treatment and brain imaging study.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumental will give the opening remarks. Mr Blumental is a strong supporter of Lyme disease awareness and of the need for medical insurance companies to more adequately cover Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment costs.

Speakers will include Dr Brian A. Fallon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. He will address behavioral and cognitive manifestations of Lyme Disease, including the effects on children and adolescents. Dr Fallon is the principal investigator of a four-year NIH-funded study of brain imaging and treatment of persistent Lyme encephalopathy.

Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner, president and founder of the Lyme Disease Foundation and author of the book Everything You Need to Know About Lyme Disease, will provide an overview of the foundation, the politics of Lyme Disease, and information on educational programs for schools.

The objective of the forum is for the general public to become aware of the disease, how to reduce the risk of contracting it, and how to identify it.

Mark Cooper, Newtown Health District director, will discuss data about the prevalence of Lyme disease in Newtown. Area state legislators also have been invited to attend.

Lyme disease soared in the late 1990s as Americans built more homes in wooded areas, bringing people into contact with ticks, according to new figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said it recorded nearly 17,000 cases of Lyme in 1998 and more than 16,000 in 1999, with the vast majority concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest.

The United States averaged about 11,000 cases a year in the first eight years of the decade.

Lyme disease causes fatigue, fever, and joint pain that can persist for weeks, and some patients develop severe arthritis. Lyme also can badly damage the heart and nervous system if it goes untreated by antibiotics.

Signs include rash and flu-like symptoms. Daily tick checks, vaccinations, and insect repellent are recommended as preventive measures.

More than 90 percent of the 1999 cases came from nine states – Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin – where deer ticks are most common.

Massachusetts had 12.7 cases per 100,000 population, which ranked it eighth in the nation.

Connecticut accounted for one in every six reported cases in 1999. It was in Lyme, Conn., that the disease was discovered in 1975.

“The year 2000 saw a record number of cases reported,” said Rotarian Ed Osterman. “It is up to each one of us to be knowledgeable about the prevention or avoidance and symptoms of the disease, which is so prevalent in our area.

“This is a forum no one can afford to miss,” he said.

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