A strategy to eliminate Lyme disease

from the Connecticut Post Online, www.connpost.com


Have you heard the good news about Lyme disease?

Did you know that a town on Cape Cod ended its Lyme disease epidemic more than 20 years ago, and has been a virtual "Lyme disease free zone" ever since?

Or that communities in three New England states have ended their Lyme disease epdemics?

If knowledge is power, it rightly resides in the people, and thus a coalition has been formed to help make more people aware of the evidence that our epidemic of Lyme disease is a medical problem with a political solution — one that begins with the right of the people to know that Connecticut's "Endless Epidemic" is also its "Unnecessary Epidemic."

The Connecticut Coalition to Eradicate Lyme Disease — an all-volunteer, statewide coalition with support from environmental groups, municipalities, regional planning organizations, individuals, emergency room physicians and other doctors — was formed last summer to make people aware that we don't have to just learn to live with our Lyme epidemic. We can end it. In doing so, we can also save the native woodlands, wildflowers and songbirds of Connecticut from on-going devastation by unnatural over-populations of deer.

Informing people that they have the option to end the Lyme epidemic, so they can decide for themselves whether they wish to do so, is clearly an idea whose time has come. Seven regional planning agencies in Connecticut representing more than 70 towns have already sent letters of support to Gov. M.
Jodi Rell, requesting a coordinated state policy, in response to the coalition's requests.

To rid our state of its epidemic levels of Lyme disease will require no new medical discoveries, great expenditures or new inventions.

The first step is merely that a sufficient number of government officials and voters become aware that:

only deer population reduction has ever ended a Lyme disease epidemic; and,

nothing else ever has.

Restoration of natural levels of 10 or fewer deer per square mile has repeatedly ended epidemic levels of Lyme disease. It works because more than 10 deer per square mile are biologically necessary for deer ticks to reproduce successfully. No deer ticks, no Lyme disease.

The frequent assertion that reducing deer won't end human Lyme epidemics because mice and other animals still can act as reservoirs of Lyme disease is incorrect and, consequently, misleading. With fewer deer there are too few deer ticks left to sustain the epidemic. This is very well-documented, repeatedly proven fact, not a theory. The towns that are Lyme disease-free controlled deer numbers, nothing else. Mice and other, larger animals don't preserve the deer tick populations. The evidence and links to more information are on our Web site.

Once the implications of this momentous good news are fully grasped, the next steps should be free and open discussion of the options. The coalition advocates updating and modernizing state deer management and state Department of Health policy to reflect a new and vitally important mission — to end the Lyme epidemic.

Coalition supporters include the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, Washington Environmental Council, the Aquarion Water Co. and Connecticut Campgrounds Associations.

Others who, at the request of the coalition, have expressed support for its goals in letters to the governor include the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, Danbury Hospital and Newtown Lyme Task Forces, the Danbury Hospital Department of Pediatrics, group medical and veterinary practices, local health department medical directors, and more.

Current attempts at prevention of Lyme disease through "personal protection" have failed to stop the growth or spread of the Lyme disease epidemic. The status quo is not acceptable. We hope that Governor Rell will lead new statewide efforts to prevent Lyme disease.

Terence Savery, a resident of Woodstock, is chairman of the Connecticut Coalition to Eradicate Lyme Disease. The coalition's Web page can be found at www.EradicateLymeDisease.org



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