— Guest Post from Michelle McKeon, MS, President, Lyme and Cancer Services
Bay Area Lyme is happy to share the editorial contributions of care providers, patients, caregivers, and others in the community who are eager to share their knowledge for the benefit of others suffering from Lyme and related tick-borne illnesses. There is still so much we don’t know and so much we are just learning. It is critical that we keep an active dialogue and share and collaborate to continue to move our understanding forward. What follows is an article written by a guest contributor and practicing care provider who shares that view and her personal and professional experience in hopes that it can help others with their healing journeys.
Twilight zone: an area just beyond ordinary legal and ethical limits
Living with tick-borne infections is like crossing over into the twilight-zone. Welcome to the dark side! There is suspense. ‘Is a significant amount of the medical community really not going to recognize Lyme as a chronic disease?!’ There is horror. ‘What? The insurance company just denied my treatment because they don’t deem it to be medically necessary?!’ And, of course, there is a psychological thriller. ‘Is this actually my life?!’
When you are at this point of your journey with late-stage Lyme, it seems as though there is no coming back. Where does one go when they are here? Eight years ago, I asked myself this very question. At this time, hyperthermia treatment was presented as my best option. While already feeling like I was living in an alternate universe, the idea of heating up my body to above 105° F was not exactly the escape plan that I had dreamed of. This led me to my next question…
First West Coast CME Program on Tick-borne Disease Provides New Data, Insights from Researchers
Stanford University School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital host clinical and research forum funded by Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Silicon Valley, CA, September 3, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today highlights the first tick-borne disease CME program on the West Coast, Emerging Research, Diagnosis and Treatment of Lyme Disease and Tick-Borne Illness. The conference was hosted by two major academic institutions representing the East and West Coasts of the U.S., Stanford University School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, and included presentations related to the magnitude of tick-borne disease in California, emerging diagnostic technologies, potential future treatment options, and epidemiological statistics enabled by Lyme disease biobanks.
“There is a lack of understanding about the variety and severity of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease on the west coast” said Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, professor of laboratory medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF, associate director of the UCSF Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, and Bay Area Lyme Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member. “This was a great opportunity to share the latest findings and ongoing research on the topic, so that physicians and other medical professionals can more quickly and accurately diagnose and treat their patients.”
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Tick Testing Program Adds Bartonella Pathogen Assay
Nationwide Free Tick Testing Initiative Will Inform Citizen-Science Studies to Better Understand the Spread of Ticks Carrying Diseases Throughout U.S.
Silicon Valley, CA, July 11, 2019 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the relaunch of its nationwide free tick testing program, which will include an assay for Bartonella, a disease-causing pathogen carried by ticks. Based on the success of the Free Tick Testing Citizen Science program, Bay Area Lyme Foundation has significantly increased funding for the 2019 nationwide collection effort, adding an automated submission process and increased research support. Researchers anticipate this citizen- science program will enable the organization to unearth further discoveries.
Results of the first citizen-scientist study were published in the peer-review journals PLOS ONE in 2018, and International Journal of Health Geographics in 2019. The study, which evaluated the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks throughout the United States, and included a massive sample of more than 16,000 ticks collected from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, led to the discovery of ticks capable of carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in 83 counties, in 24 states, where these ticks had not been previously recorded. The program received a six-fold increase in tick submissions over initial estimates, representing unprecedented national coordination of a ‘citizen science’ effort and diagnostic investigation.
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Responds to NY Times Story
We are thrilled for the Mandavilli family, who shared that their son responded well to treatment for Lyme disease in The New York Times story My Son Got Lyme Disease. He’s Totally Fine. This is not the case for everyone, and it is irresponsible, and scientifically inaccurate, to blanketly define Lyme, and other tick-borne diseases, as “easily treated”. This one patient’s experience can be countered by hundreds of other patients whose disease has brought their lives to a halt. It does a huge disservice to patients whose families read stories like this and question the patient’s symptoms, and whose community doctors see reports like this and refuse much-needed treatment. The joy of the Mandavilli family should be heralded as a success but not an example.
The CDC has reported deaths due to Lyme disease beginning as early as 2013, with most caused by Lyme carditis, a condition in which the bacteria invades the heart.And, the ability of this bacteria to invade other organs, including the brain, and cause paralysis is well-documented. Several celebrities including Alec Baldwin, Avril Lavigne, Yolanda Hadid and Kelly Osborne have by their own accounts believed that they were near death due to Lyme disease. Clearly, the singular experience of the Mandavilli family is not broadly representative of what every person with Lyme experiences.
If your trail is overgrown and thick with tall grasses (and most are thanks to a very wet Spring this year) … then you need to be aware of TICK HITCHHIKERS…
Unlike their highway counterpart these tick free riders don’t ask, they just grab on as you, your pet (or your horse) pass by. They perch quietly on the grasses and weeds that line your trail or backyard patiently waiting for their next unsuspecting host (and likely meal).
All too easily, you end up taking home a few uninvited guests and if not careful about checking and removing these pests when you return home, you could also end up inviting possible infection into your home.
Ticks carry Lyme disease and many other related infections that can cause debilitating and lasting symptoms. Tick incidence is on the rise almost everywhere, in part due to climate change and wetter, milder winters. If you enjoy the outdoors, you need to be aware of these itinerant nuisances and you need to take precautions to stay safe…
Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s LymeAid, Led by Jeff Bridges, Celebrates Progress, Awards New Grants
Research update and promising grant recipients energized the jubilant crowd
PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., May 14, 2019—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States, brought together scientists, philanthropists, celebrities and patients at the top of the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco for the seventh annual LymeAid, an event aimed at raising funds to make Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure. The event was the largest non-profit fundraising event held on the 61st floor of the Tower, and $1M was raised, of which 100 percent will go directly to fund scientific research, education and prevention programs for Lyme disease.
“It takes a community to solve a problem as big as Lyme, and it is wonderful to see such a powerful community here tonight to support Lyme research and the work of Bay Area Lyme Foundation,” said Jeff Bridges, actor, singer, producer and composer. Bridges entertained at LymeAid, and paid tribute to his friend Kris Kristofferson who was misdiagnosed several times before receiving an accurate diagnosis of Lyme disease, and is now on the road to recovery.
Written by Julia Ries for Healthline on April 4, 2019; Reprinted with permission.
Although spring has just begun, tick season is already well underway. The slew of wet weather seen across the country has ticks crawling out and about earlier than usual. Seeing as most ticks thrive in warm, moist weather, tick season will likely be especially tough this year, health officials predict.
“While regions across the country were either unseasonably cold or warm this past winter, there’s one factor that almost all of them had in common: excessive moisture,” Jim Fredericks, PhD, the chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), said in the NPMA’s bi-annual Bug Barometer press release.
“From record-setting snow in parts of Texas and Arizona to excessive rain in the southeast, continued precipitation predicted for most of the country this upcoming season will allow pest populations to continue to thrive and multiply,” he said.
The Foundation encourages Congress to support the recommendations to fund efforts to increase scientific understanding of Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections
Portola Valley, Calif., November 14, 2018—Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the United States, offered their appreciation to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in response to The Tick-Borne Disease Working Group’s recommendation for increased Federal investment focused on Lyme disease awareness, education, diagnosis and treatment. This Federal Advisory Committee was enshrined in the 21st Century Cures Act, after years of work by Lyme disease advocates and their congressional representatives to review the Federal Government’s activities on tick-borne disease.
“This document represents an important first step by the U.S. federal government to recognize the need to better address tick-borne diseases,” said Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Member, Tick-Borne Disease Working Group. “These recommendations make the powerful point that significant increases in federal government funding for tick-borne disease research are required before we can truly diagnose and treat tick-borne infections.”
While there are nearly 10 times as many people diagnosed each year with Lyme than HIV in the U.S., Lyme disease receives approximately 1% of the public funding that is allocated for HIV/AIDS.
Event Raises Awareness, and $1.4 Million for Research Related to Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses, which can potentially be disabling, and even life-threatening
New York, NY, November 6, 2018 – Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Project Lyme, two organizations committed to halting the course of Lyme disease, came together to highlight the need for collaboration in the fight against Lyme during the inaugural 2018 Lyme Gala. The collaboration aims to improve awareness, education, and research of Lyme and other tick-borne infections, which can potentially be disabling, and even life-threatening. With Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s expertise working with scientists and institutions to implement valuable research, develop impactful educational programs and create novel initiatives such as the Lyme Disease Biobank, and Project Lyme’s focus on increasing awareness and improving education, these organizations hope to one day make Lyme and other tick-borne diseases easy to diagnose and simple to cure.
“Lyme disease is the most important health crisis of our time,” said 2018 Lyme Gala honoree, Bill Ford, CEO, General Atlantic. “This disease demands that we recruit and fund the best medical minds to fund a cure, and I am hopeful of the efforts of Project Lyme and Bay Area Lyme Foundation toward this goal.”
Citizen-Scientist Study is First to Find Ticks Capable of Carrying Lyme Disease in 83 U.S. Counties Where Previously Undetected
Study Validates Citizen Participation as Viable Method for Health Agencies to Evaluate Tick-borne Disease Risk
PORTOLA VALLEY, CA, July 12, 2018 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the U.S., today announced the results of the first citizen-scientist study to evaluate the prevalence of disease-carrying ticks throughout the United States. Conducted through a partnership with Northern Arizona University and Colorado State University and published in the peer-review journal PLOS ONE, the study is based on a massive sample of more than 16,000 ticks collected from 49 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The study found ticks capable of carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in 83 counties (in 24 states) where these ticks had not been previously recorded. The program received a six-fold increase in tick submissions over initial estimates, representing unprecedented national coordination of a ‘citizen science’ effort and diagnostic investigation.
“Identifying geographic patterns of tick-human contact provides valuable insight that may help public health officials, patients and physicians become more vigilant about Lyme disease, increasing early diagnosis,” stated Linda Giampa, executive director at Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Based on these findings, it is critical that residents throughout the country take precautions and know the symptoms of tick-borne infections, even in areas where ticks have not previously been shown to cause disease.”