MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A group that provides education and support for Lyme disease patients has some concerns, after the state said it would relax its requirements for reporting the ailment.
Mike Nickel of the Wisconsin Lyme Network says it might result in people paying less attention to avoiding and removing the ticks that cause the disease. And he’s concerned that doctors might not report all its suspected cases.
Doctors must still report all their positive test results to local health agencies – but those departments no longer have to investigate cases in which rashes don’t appear.
Wendy Stuart of the Marinette County Health Department said the old requirement was draining her agency’s resources.
Nickel says he understands the reasoning for the change – and his group is taking a wait and see attitude. The bulls-eye rashes show up in about 70 percent of Lyme cases. And of 8,000 positive tests last year, less than half turned out to be possible or confirmed cases of the disease.
Diep Hoang Johnson of the health services department said it takes a lot of work to investigate Lyme disease. Wisconsin has had around 20,000 cases over the last dozen years, and they’ve been on the rise in recent years.
Johnson says the state will keep tracking Lyme disease with estimates and past trends. Local health officials say the new rules will give them more time to work on other health concerns like whooping cough.