Lyme Disease: Inside America’s Mysterious Epidemic

Excerpted from Rolling Stone:  (06/10/2017)

In 2004, Kelly Osbourne was bitten by a tick. Her dad burned it off with a match and that, she thought, was the end of that.

But in the years that followed, she suffered from persistent body aches, headaches, stomach pain and trouble sleeping. In 2013, she had a seizure on the set of her show, Fashion Police. As her symptoms piled up, so did the prescriptions: Ambien, Trazodone, anti-seizure medications, even painkillers, despite her past addiction issues. The pills robbed her of her energy and emotions. “You know in movies where a mental patient sits in a rocking chair in a cardigan and nightgown and stares at a wall all day?” Osbourne wrote in her new memoir, There Is No F*cking Secret: Letters From a Badass Bitch. “That was me.”

As a last resort, Osbourne consulted an alternative medicine practitioner and asked to be tested for Lyme disease. The test came back positive: she had stage III neurological Lyme. Osbourne immediately flew to Germany to receive stem cell therapy. She kept her diagnosis private, she writes, “not only for fear of pharmaceutical companies coming after me because of the cure I found in Germany but also because it seems like the trendy disease to have right now.”

As unlikely as it seems that a tick-borne illness could ever be deemed “trendy,” Osbourne is right: Lyme disease is having a moment.

In recent years, a growing list of celebrities have gone public with their Lyme diagnoses. In the 2013 documentary The Punk Singer, Kathleen Hanna emerged from a nearly decade-long hiatus to reveal her excruciating battle with Lyme disease. “I didn’t want to face the fact that I was really sick,” she told the camera, tearing up. “I wanted to tell everybody I chose to stop [performing], but I didn’t choose.” Then there was Avril Lavigne on the cover of People magazine in 2015, gazing out pensively over the headline, “I thought I was dying.” In 2016, there was the news that Kris Kristofferson’s tragic memory loss wasn’t due to Alzheimer’s after all; it was Lyme. There was the multiple season storyline on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills about Yolanda Hadid’s battle with Lyme, the accusations she was faking it, and then the shocking news that her supermodel daughter Bella and son Anwar had Lyme, too.

Lyme has been a known disease for several decades, but only in the past five years has it forced its way into cultural and medical relevance and become something that’s widely discussed. Lyme is now the focus of A-list fundraising galas and E! News headlines. Unfortunately, the increased attention hasn’t translated to a more hopeful prognosis for Lyme sufferers. Roughly 329,000 new infections occur annually, and scientists are projecting a historic spike in infections around the country this summer. For a disease that’s been studied for 40 years, with many prominent people pushing for answers, the truly shocking thing about Lyme disease is how much of a mystery it still is.

“There’s an incredible amount of detail and nuance to the Lyme disease story,” says Taal Levi, assistant professor of quantitative wildlife ecology at Oregon State University. “Anyone who tells you there’s a simple answer is lying to you.”

For more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/lyme-disease-inside-americas-mysterious-epidemic-w487776

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~ by Rob on June 26, 2017.

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