May 2014 is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. This month, please take time to learn how you can limit your exposure to ticks. As a resident of Northern Virginia, I know first-hand the devastating effects of Lyme disease in our community. Preventing tick bites is the best way to prevent tick-borne diseases like Lyme. It is important to be extra cautious during the warm months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors.

In 2011 I co-sponsored HJR 643 – which designates every May as "Lyme Disease Awareness Month" in Virginia. As a result of this increased awareness and other publicity, the Commonwealth have continued to address the ever-increasing problem of Lyme disease.

Unfortunately, Lyme disease continues as a problem in the Commonwealth. Virginia remains one of the thirteen states from which 95 percent of Lyme Disease cases are reported, and reported cases increased 9 percent between 2011 and 2012. We must remain vigilant and active in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

According to the National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association, 71 percent of patients who take the test for Lyme will get a false negative. To better protect Virginians, last year I co-sponsored HB 1933, the Lyme Disease Testing Information Disclosure Act of 2013 –, which now requires health care providers to notify anyone tested for Lyme that current laboratory testing can produce false negatives.

If you think that you may have contracted Lyme Disease please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Lyme Disease Prevention site –, which provides information about symptoms and treatment, or the Virginia Department of Health’s Lyme Disease Fact Sheet –

As the weather improves, the potential to be exposed to this debilitating disease will increase. I encourage you to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the information listed on these sites.