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Source: FOX 5 DC


GLA Ambassador Chris Meloni and advocates push for government recognition and funding to combat chronic Lyme disease, shedding light on the debilitating effects and lack of support for those affected.

WASHINGTON - There's a new effort this week to get more attention and government funding to combat chronic Lyme disease, an illness impacting half a million new patients a year in this country. 

Actor Chris Meloni, whose family has dealt with chronic Lyme disease for years, is front and center in the campaign to get Congress to open its ears and purse strings to treat Lyme disease with the care and concern they say it deserves.

Meloni, along with documentary director Lindsay Keys, are hoping to influence lawmakers to get chronic Lyme disease the recognition, diagnosis, treatment options, and research they say it deserves.

"They're just now understanding how incredibly complicated this disease is. How it presents itself," Meloni said.

Keys produced and directed a documentary to better inform people about Lyme disease called 'The Quiet Epidemic.'

"We are going to be calling for a congressional hearing to thrust this topic into the spotlight. It's really been unfolding and growing in the shadows. It's an invisible illness. So, we're coming here to make some noise and hopefully they'll join us and we'll be able to get this on the record and what's happened, how we got to this point, and where we go from here," said Keys. 

Among those lobbying Congress this week: Julia Bruzzese, a young girl from Brooklyn living with Lyme disease. Now confined to a wheelchair, the documentary follows her life story, a childhood stolen by Lyme disease.

"This documentary is a very powerful tool to get the word out about this disease, and we're hoping that with this documentary we can bring about change and hopefully make a difference," said Bruzzese. 

Bacteria from a tick bite is what causes Lyme disease. The symptoms can be debilitating: extreme headaches, gastrointestinal issues, brain fog, joint pain, fatigue.

"My family saw eight different specialists because it presented itself as 'oh this is a GI issue.' The headaches, maybe he has brain cancer, so you get a CAT scan and you get needles shoved into your head. They take samples of your spinal fluid," said Meloni. 

"We need a test that works to let people know they have Lyme disease. We need treatments for all stages of the illness. And we also need more research into overlapping tick-borne infections because ticks carry far more than just Lyme disease," said Keys. 

"It's prohibitively expensive," said Meloni. "I mean if you get chronic Lyme, even if you have insurance, you're in a boatload of trouble because insurance companies won't cover it because it's not officially recognized,"

The documentary ‘The Quiet Epidemic’ can be watched on Apple TV and Prime Video.


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