Leading the Fight Against Lyme Disease and Proactively Managing the Growing Deer Population

The rural nature of much of the Dranesville District is one of the many aspects that make it a special place to live. Unfortunately, along with the positive elements of a rural landscape come challenges. Fighting Lyme Disease and effectively managing the growing deer population are two such challenges.

Lyme Disease is one of the most pressing yet little known issues facing the Dranesville District. This debilitating illness is especially a concern to residents in heavily wooded areas – a large percentage of the District. The proliferation of deer ticks, the top carrier of the disease, is of particular concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Lyme Disease is the 6th fastest growing disease in the United States. Because of its serious nature, and the relative difficulty in detecting and treating it, government leaders at all levels need to be on the forefront in the fight against Lyme.

One of the biggest challenges in fighting Lyme Disease is the medical community’s lack of awareness around cutting edge detection methods such as one newly discovered at George Mason University which has nearly 100% sensitivity in early stage detection. As Supervisor, I will work with the County Health Department to ensure our health professionals are educated on new methods for the detection and treatment of Lyme and that we employ them accordingly. I would also work with our state and Federal leadership to ensure Lyme Disease is classified as a chronic disease, enabling doctors to treat it on a long term basis and prescribe medications accordingly.

Exacerbating the Lyme Disease threat and causing excessive property damage and accidents is a rapidly growing deer population. In Fairfax County, there are approximately 4,000-5,000 collisions between vehicles and deer reported annually.  In the Great Falls and McLean areas alone, which have more than twice the healthy deer density, incidents are so commonplace that civic associations have taken steps to raise awareness. The damage caused by the large deer population is not isolated to vehicles. Plant and landscape damage is pervasive, and deer ticks are the #1 carrier of Lyme Disease.

As Supervisor, I will ensure the County is more proactive about deer management in Dranesville. Our residents should be able to enjoy the rural nature of the District without unnecessarily risking damage to themselves or their property. The County should focus its resources on controlling the population in Great Falls and McLean, and developing deeper and more active relationships with deer management programs that use volunteer manpower to curb the population.