Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Call to Action

I have managed to get myself subscribed to a few Lyme disease related mailing lists. Some of the information I receive is very informative. Some of it is way over my head and some of it is Lyme 101. I think I've advanced to the 3 or 4oo hundred level stuff by now.

One guy who has me on his list is Dave Tierney. From what I've figured out, Dave is a North Carolina resident who has Lyme disease. There is a picture on the wall at Dr. Jemsek's office with Dave it in. Apparently Dave is (was?) a pilot for US Air. I believe his illness has kept him from working in the past. He seems very focused in his advocacy and he lives in our state!

Dave is asking folks to email or call their North Carolina state governmental representatives concerning proposed budget cuts by the North Carolina Senate. The Senate is proposing cutting $140,000 from the Department of Public Health's budget that is intended for tick studies. I have sent an email to my local representation, as well as the head of the NC Department of Public Health, Dr. Jeffrey Engel, who by the way is no friend of Lyme sufferers.

Both the letters I sent are similar, so I'm going to include the copy that I sent to my state representatives, Pete Brunstetter and Bill McGee. I also ask that you contact your representation if you are so inclined.

If you live in North Carolina and wish to know who your representatives are, go to this website:

Scroll about half way down on the right side until you see "Who Represents Me?". Enter your 9 digit zip code. There's a link there if you don't know your 9-digit zip. You can check your junk snail mail, catalogs and magazines for your 9-digit zip. It's usually on the label for those. After entering your zip, you can click on the link for each of your representatives you will get details for them including their email address.

Here is the contact information for the Director of the North Carolina Department of Public Health. He doesn't provide an email address:

State Health Director
Dr. Jeffrey P. Engel
Division of Public Health
1931 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1931

Just a Little more information before the letter. Here are the links to a couple of articles that Dave sent. I used of the information in them to compose my letters:

N.C. in denial on Lyme disease?

N.C. budget cuts threaten tick studies

Dear Mr. Brunstetter and Mr. McGee:

The state of North Carolina leads the nation in the number of reported cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Incidence of other tick borne illnesses including Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella and Ehrlichia, is on the rise in our state. These illnesses have a devastating impact on the lives of the infected and their families. Some of the symptoms of these illnesses can cause such extreme disability that the person who is sick can no longer go to work or school, drive a car, or take care of their families. In some cases these diseases result in death.

There is money in the North Carolina state budget that has been designated for studying the danger that tick borne infections pose to the state of North Carolina. The senate is proposing eliminating $140,000 of this funding. Some of this money is intended to be used to analyze 2600 ticks that were collected last year to understand their infection rates.

I understand that these are hard economic times for our state and our nation. We all need to tighten our belts, at home and in our capitals. According to estimates by the US Census Bureau, the current population of North Carolina is 9,222,414. The amount of money being cut from the budget represents about 1.5 cents for every person in North Carolina for a year. To the citizens of North Carolina this is nothing. To those who suffer from tick borne illnesses this amount of money is very significant. This money can help us move toward a future where these illnesses are better understood and proper diagnosis and treatment are more readily available.

North Carolina State Health Director Dr. Jeffrey Engel, in regard to Lyme disease, has been quoted as saying, "There is nothing on our side that is resistant to reporting and understanding Lyme disease here. But we can only go by science." Eliminating these funds from our state budget blocks the science that we need to better understand the growing problem of tick borne illnesses in North Carolina.

I respectfully request that you do everything under your power to help maintain this funding in our state budget.

Thank you,

Shaun Funk

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