Many of us in the Global Lyme Alliance community know firsthand just how devastating contracting Lyme disease (and co-infections!) can be. In honor of Lyme disease Awareness Month, we are highlighting a conversation between GLA supporter and advocate Ali Moresco and her friend and fellow GLA advocate, Dr. Casey Kelley, MD, ABoIM.
Ali and Dr. Kelley go back to the basics, and we hope this serves as a guide that you can share with family, friends, and allies to educate them on awareness and prevention of tick-borne disease.
Dr. Kelley graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed her residency in Family Medicine at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. She is a ten-year member of the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM), a Director on the board of The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS). She is a Founding Member of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM). Dr. Kelley is also on the faculty at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
As someone who lives with Lyme & other illnesses, Ali Moresco’s mission in life is to help others and better the lives of those living with tick-borne illness. As the co-founder of two separate fundraising events in Chicago, She’s raised over $400,000 for Global Lyme Alliance. For interview suggestions, information, or just to say hi, you can connect with Alex on Instagram: @alitmoresco.
What is Lyme disease?
More often than not, Lyme disease is used as an umbrella term to discuss any tick-borne illness, but Lyme disease is unique and an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread via tick bites. Acute Lyme disease occurs after a bite from an infected tick and often causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue. Sometimes you will see a bullseye rash called erythema migrans that is painless and self-limited, but it is important to note that not every individual who contracts Lyme disease will present with the bullseye rash. If this infection is not treated quickly enough or for long enough, it can develop into chronic Lyme Disease - which is often nicknamed “the great imitator” as the symptoms can mimic many other diseases such as MS, RA, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The most common symptoms are migratory joint pain, debilitating fatigue, and brain fog.
How common is Lyme Disease?
More common than you think! It is estimated that 500,000 people contract Lyme Disease each year- and that is in the US alone!
How do you contract Lyme Disease?
When you are bitten by a tick that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi you can develop Lyme Disease as well as co-infections. It is also possible to contract the disease in-utero, meaning if the mother has Lyme disease, she can pass the infection to her unborn fetus.
Can you contract any other diseases from a tick?
Yes - many. Often called “co-infections,” these bacteria, parasites, and viruses can be equally hard to treat. Some common infections are: anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, bartonellosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus, to name a few. If you are tested for Lyme disease, make sure you also test for co-infections.
What can I do to keep myself and my loved ones safe?
Prevention is key. When you are out and about - even just gardening in your yard (especially if you live in a Lyme endemic area) - wear non-toxic tick repellent. I like products that contain picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil. You can also pre-treat your outdoor clothes with permethrin spray, which you can find at any sporting goods store. Spray your clothes outside or in a very well-ventilated area until they are damp, and let them dry. The insect repellant will stay on the clothes for up to 6 washes. Include your socks, shoes, and hats as well. Be fashion-forward and tuck your pants into your socks. Wear light-colored clothing so you can more easily see the ticks. Wear your hair back and/or wear a hat. You can also use tick-tubes in your yard and follow the CDC’s guidelines to help keep your yard less tick-friendly.
What can I do to raise awareness for Lyme Disease?Talk about it! Tell your friends and family. When you share your story, you can both empower and educate others. Poke around the Global Lyme Alliance website and sign up to be an ambassador or join the Peer to Peer mentorship program!
It is estimated that 500,000 people contract Lyme Disease each year- don’t let that be you or your loved ones. Give this article a read, and make sure to share these tips with your family and friends. Let’s enjoy the outdoors- but stay safe this summer.
Get tickets to Alex's next virtual GLA fundraising event in June, Lyme Warriors Live.
As someone who lives with Lyme & other illnesses, Alex Moresco’s mission in life is to help others and better the lives of those living with tick-borne illness. As the co-founder of two separate fundraising events in Chicago, She’s raised over $400,000 for Global Lyme Alliance. For interview suggestions, information or just to say hi, you can connect with Alex on Instagram at: @alitmoresco