Ozarks woman hopes for tick-borne disease progress with proposed federal legislation

Published: Mar. 12, 2019 at 4:19 PM CDT
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You probably try to protect yourself and your children from ticks and the diseases they carry with insect repellents. But new federal legislation would add resources to the battle against Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the U.S. The proposed legislation would crate a new national strategy to combat tick-borne diseases.

The bill would create an office of oversight and coordination for tick-borne diseases in the Department of Health and Human Services.

It would expand and enhance research, develop new and better diagnostic tests and seek safe and effective vaccines.

Lori Geurin, who lives near Bolivar, hopes more resources are put toward exploring tick-borne diseases. She started having flu like symptoms and severe fatigue about seven years ago.

"My whole body was in pain, and I couldn't sleep at all," says Geurin. "I would have night after night of no sleep at all, and I was teaching and a mom of four children and a wife. And it was just all I could do to get up in the morning and get out of bed."

A year and a half later, Geurin says she tested positive for Lyme disease in one test from a private company, one from her doctor, plus another tick borne disease called tularemia.

"He said that my symptoms, if I had been to the northeast, that he would diagnose me with Lyme because my symptoms were consistent with Lyme," says Geurin. "But because I hadn't been to the northeast, I didn't have Lyme disease."

Her long search for answers is one reason she believes more research is needed on Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses.

"I've read a lot that there isn't enough funding for Lyme, and there's so many people out there that I hear from every week have the same symptoms and they've been told the same things," says Geurin.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is one of many co-sponsors to the bill, House Resolution 220. It's been introduced in the house and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.