City of Austin (Texas)
Lyme Disease Awareness Month Proclamation Ceremony
Council Chambers, Austin City Hall
May 3, 2007
Mayor Winn, distinguished members of the Austin City Council, thank you, for declaring May as Lyme Disease Awareness month and thereby helping us to raise awareness about both the prevalence and perils of tick-borne illness in Texas.
Lyme disease is a much greater risk in Texas than most people realize. Between 1994 and 2006, an average of 74 cases was reported annually. Case reporting is based on the strict surveillance criteria set by the CDC which, by CDC’s own estimates, means that only about 10 percent of cases, and probably less, are actually reported. Lyme advocates believe that many more cases are probably not reported because they are never diagnosed.
Because Lyme disease is so complex, and because there do not yet exist any definitive tests, Lyme disease is first and foremost a clinical diagnosis, made by a doctor based on a patient’s symptoms and history. Because Lyme remains largely unrecognized in Texas, doctors do not know to look for it, and patients do not know to ask about it, so many diagnoses are simply missed. It is also not unusual for a Lyme patient to be told, “It’s all in your head,” and sent to a psychiatrist.
Think about that. A bacteria related to but much more potent than the one that causes syphilis is invading your organs, tissues, and even your central nervous system, and you are sent to a psychiatrist for anti-depressants. This is happening regularly in Texas.
As a result, most Lyme patients in Texas are forced to travel out of state for medical care. Many others remain untreated, and even undiagnosed and misdiagnosed, because doctors are not looking for Lyme disease. The Texas Department of State Health Services considers Lyme to be endemic to Texas, but many patients are still told by their doctors, “There is no Lyme in Texas.” We are working to change that, and by declaring May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month, you are helping us to spread a very important message.
Suzanne B. Shaps
Texas Lyme Disease Association