Letters to the Editor for May 26
Lyme disease far more prevalent than government stats show
In the wake of the May 21 [Lyme disease] forum at Skidmore College, it was encouraging to read that Sen. Charles Schumer has teamed with Rep. Chris Gibson and Paul Tonko to advocate for legislation that will expand the scope of Lyme disease research and improve education initiatives for health professionals and the public.
However, prominent in the article are two oft-repeated misconceptions about the transmission of pathogens from ticks to humans. Published research has shown that Lyme disease spirochetes and other pathogens in ticks are transmitted soon after the ticks burrow into the skin (within four hours post-attachment). Thus any tick found embedded in the skin is potentially a health threat.
Additionally, references to the reported number of cases in Schenectady County are a vast underestimate of the actual number of cases and a huge disservice to the thousands of people in upstate New York who have chronic and debilitating symptoms as a result of untreated or undertreated Lyme disease.
The definition of Lyme disease by the [federal] Centers for Disease Control (which is based on a surveillance case definition developed by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists with considerable input from the Infectious Diseases Society of America) precludes diagnosis and reporting of more than half of the cases of Lyme disease in the country.
This case definition requires appearance of a “bulls-eye” rash and a positive test for antibodies against only one tick-borne pathogen (Borrelia).
However, according to published studies, the rash occurs or is observed in only a small percentage of people who have Lyme disease, and the blood test is falsely negative half the time. Thus the majority of cases of Lyme disease are not diagnosed, treated or reported to the Department of Health.
CDC-backed research has recently concluded that prevalence in companion animals (dogs) is an accurate reflection of Lyme disease risk in humans. A 2011 study in Vermont revealed that the prevalence rate of Lyme disease in dogs ranged from 5 to 25 percent. This lends strong support to concerns that Lyme disease has reached epidemic status in New York, and elsewhere in the country.
The writer is an associate professor of microbiology at SUNY Adirondack.
Cars not only things that kill teens; guns do
I recently noticed some auto insurance ads addressing the importance of driver safety, especially since auto accidents account for the largest percentage of teen deaths. It’s commendable that they are being proactive.
I wish the firearms industry would act so responsibly, since homicides and suicides are the second- and third-leading causes of death among teens 15-19. According to the Child Trends Databank, a nonprofit research center, “Firearms were the instrument of death in 85 percent of teen homicides and 43 percent of teen suicides in 2007. While almost one in four youth firearm injuries results in death, non-firearm injuries result in death in only one out of every 760 cases.”
It calls to mind the recent tragedy in Florida, where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. Martin was walking back to his father’s apartment when Zimmerman confronted and killed him. If it had simply been a fistfight, someone would have gotten hurt, but both would have walked away intact.
Today’s children and teens are our future citizens, the most valuable resources of this country. Shouldn’t we try to figure out how to keep them safe and alive so they can be here tomorrow?
Standardize deductibles for hurricane insurance
June 1 is the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season. According to the National Hurricane Center, damages from Hurricane Irene alone totaled $18.7 billion last year. Your readers don’t have to look far to see damages that can occur from these storms.
When a hurricane does hit New York state, many homeowners will be surprised to find that, while their home may have incurred similar damage to the one next door, the deductible for the storm damage with their homeowners insurance is hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than that of their neighbor’s.
Fortunately, the state Assembly has passed a bill to standardize the conditions that trigger hurricane deductibles — but the bill awaits action from the Senate in Albany. Nobody likes to learn their deductible is larger than the other guy’s, or that their policy doesn’t cover the same damage after a storm. The last thing our state’s homeowners need is an unexpected disappointment after a hurricane.
As the hurricane season begins, I urge your readers to call their state senators and ask them to mark the occasion by passing S.3387.
The writer is president of the Rowledge [insurance] Agency.
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