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How much do you know about chronic Lyme disease? You may have heard of it in passing, but, like a majority of people, you couldn't tell your friends what Lyme disease is or what its symptoms are.
The scary thing is that chronic Lyme disease is actually more common than most realize.
1.5 times more diagnoses than breast cancer
Over 300,000 people are diagnosed every year with chronic Lyme disease, more than the 230,000 people who are are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Yet we hear more about awareness for breast cancer than we ever hear mention of Lyme disease.
What is chronic Lyme disease and why is it so hard to diagnose?
The bacteria causing chronic Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, can affect various parts of the body: the joints, the nerves, the heart, and more. If left untreated, it will spread to multiple areas, again, displaying sporadic symptoms that imitate those of other illnesses making it difficult to diagnose as Lyme disease. It used to be identifiable when patients were bitten by a tick and noticed a rash resembling a bull's-eye. However, less than 50% of Lyme disease patients actually experience these symptoms.
Another terrifying element of Lyme disease is recent research that suggests that Lyme disease is not only transmitted through a tick bite, but can also be transmitted through sex, even among monogamous relationships. The bacteria is similar to that of syphilis, which also mimics the symptoms of other diseases. Dr. Raphael Stricker, one of the scientists conducting the study, has suggested that if Lyme disease can be transmitted sexually, it would explain why there are so many cases of Lyme disease without a known tick bite or appearance of a rash.
If you think that you're safe from Lyme disease because you don't live in a largely forested area, think again.
What's being done?
With a disease that has become so prevalent, why isn't more action taking place to make people aware of chronic Lyme disease? Shouldn't we have heard about this before now?
Perhaps part of the problem is that so many people who have Lyme disease are not properly diagnosed, making the issue not seem quite as large as it truly. It would appear that something like this is the case when funded research for Lyme disease is 100 times less than research for HIV, and 30 times less than research for breast cancer. One can only imagine how significant a gap there is between funds to raise awareness for Lyme disease vs. the diseases and cancers we hear about more frequently.
Perhaps more awareness is the necessary step to reduce the reach of chronic Lyme disease. It has only been a notifiable condition for the CDC since 1991, but since its national surveillance has begun, cases reported have seen a 25-fold increase. But even more awareness is needed to better fight off what could become the next HIV.
What can you do?
Share this article to help raise awareness about this disease. If you are worried about your risk of chronic Lyme disease, set up a consultation with a physician. With so many misdiagnoses, it it crucial that you see a specialist who knows how to properly diagnose Lyme disease and recognizes the symptoms as Lyme disease. Contact the FAR Clinic for a consultation today, and make sure that you and your loved ones are aware of this hidden and hardly known danger.
Emily interned as a BrandView content writer with FamilyShare.com. She has also worked as a writing tutor and a volunteer creative writing editor. But if you want the more honest answer as to who Emily really is, she would describe herself as an avid bacon lover and film buff, with Grace Kelly class and an irrational fear of stairs.