Residents of Loudon County grew so sick (literally) of Lyme disease that they have poured resources into defending themselves against the infection and now they’ve won an award for their efforts! The Loudon Lyme Disease Commission created the ‘Loudon Targets Lyme‘ program to raise awareness of the infection and help residents reduce their exposure to ticks and, earlier this month, the county won a 2013 Achievement Award for the program from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo).
Part of Loudon County’s strategy involved creating a Lyme disease commission, with the intention of focusing attention on the spreading risk of the infection. Rates of Lyme disease in Loudon County were on the rise and the Loudon Board of Supervisors felt that the local community were not being sufficiently protected due to a lack of awareness of the issue and divided opinion in the medical community.
They declared 2012 Lyme Disease Awareness Year and spent their time putting together a comprehensive action plan to tackle the disease. A ten point action plan was devised, involving:
- Conducting a Lyme disease survey to uncover risk factors and other information that would later inform funding decisions
- Highlight Lyme disease resources on the county’s website homepage
- Develop and deliver educational resources for county schools
- Organise Lyme Disease Education Forums with expert panels
- Form Lyme disease support groups
- Work with local newspapers to ensure monthly articles on Lyme disease prevention and treatment
- Provide information on Lyme literate doctors on the county’s website
- Help homeowners learn how to tick-proof their property
- Educate all children enrolled in Parks and Rec outdoor programs
- Consider spraying county parks with acaracides and using 4-post deer feeders
The formation of the commission and the follow-through on the action plan has now earned Loudon county an award from the VACo.Director of government affairs, Erik Johnston, said that Loudon Targets Lyme was an “innovative program that can serve as a model for other counties.” The plan made sure to involve local businesses, non-profit organisations, local residents and the Loudon Health Department, ensuring that the strategies to be implemented were helping all members of the community and were well received, making them more effective for Lyme disease prevention.