A group of lawmakers is pushing for a national strategy to combat Lyme disease aimed at speeding advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the sometimes serious illness that infects tens of thousands of people every year.

The legislation would establish an advisory committee of researchers, patient advocates and agencies. It would also coordinate support for developing better diagnostic tests, surveillance, research and other efforts.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island says Lyme disease is a growing problem, and the bill would help funnel more money to researching how to best treat it and prevent it. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey says it would pull together the best available science and then aggressively attack the disease.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says he hopes it will pass this year.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)