Recap of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, & Human Rights held a hearing 2PM, on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in 2172 Rayburn HOB in Washington, DC. The hearing, Global Challenges in Diagnosing and Managing Lyme Disease – Closing Knowledge Gaps.
Stephen W. Barthold, Ph.D.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
Center of Comparative Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine University of California, Davis
Raphael Stricker, M.D.
International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society
Mark Eshoo, Ph.D.
Director, New Technology Development
Ms. Patricia Smith
Lyme Disease Association
Mr. Evan White
Lyme Disease Patient
Ms. Stella Huyshe-Shires
Lyme Disease Action
Approximately 50 people were in the audience. They appeared to be mostly Congressional staffers. The balance in attendance were Lyme patients. Notable guests included Barbara Buchman, Executive Director of ILADS; Lorraine Johnson Executive Director of lymedisease.org; and Monte Skall, Director of natcaplyme.org; and Susan Green, Lyme attorney.
Other than Congressman Smith, Karen Bass D-CA was the only other Committee member in attendance. Rep. Bass left after she gave her opening statement. Congressman Wolf R-VA and Congressman Gibson R-NY also attended the hearing and made supportive comments.
In his opening statement, Congressman Smith, D-NJ, Chair of the subcommittee, indicated that representatives from the IDSA, CDC and NIH were invited to participate but declined due to scheduling issues. Rep. Smith indicated that there were three controversial issues that needed to be addressed: persistence of Bb even after treatment, quality of diagnostics, and treatment guidelines. Representative concurred that her constituents in the central valley (CA) had communicated the seriousness of the chronic Lyme issue. Congressman Gibson added that this was a constituent driven issue and that his goal was to bring two communities together to find common ground. He also expressed concern that the right folks get the dollars for research. He said that $8.75 million has been allocated for research but that it needs the right oversight. Congressman Wolf reiterated that the Lyme challenge was a big issue for his constituents.
Stephen W. Barthold, Ph.D. re-capped his research showing persistent infection in monkeys despite antibiotic treatment, referring to metabolically viable organisms. He explained that researchers follow the money and that if enough incentives were given, there would be more research done. He underscored that people on both sides of the issue are “good” people but that they just look at the issue from a different perspective.
Raphael Stricker, MD gave the ILADS point of view. He emphasized the fact that the IDSA clinical guidelines only address the immediate bite. He added that we need national protection for treating doctors, better diagnostics from NIH. He urged the group to look at the evidence of persistence of Bb. 70% of patients will respond to current treatment methods.