While summer is currently still upon us, I wanted to take this time to remind everyone to stay alert regarding ticks and tick borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. Please continue to limit your exposure to ticks, and practice preventative measures when outside. As a resident of Northern Virginia, I know first-hand the devastating effects of Lyme disease in our community. It is important to be extra cautious during the warm months when ticks are most active and people spend more time outdoors.

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.

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.

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.

The potential to be exposed to this disease is an ever-present threat and I encourage you to remain vigilant. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the information listed on these sites.