Lyme disease is serious, easily misdiagnosed

To the editor:

Lyme Disease is a growing threat to public health in the Northeast U.S. New York, Columbia and Greene counties have the highest rate of infection with the illness per capita in the nation.

I am a transplant from Long Island where a lot of people I know have contracted Lyme disease and have been completely misdiagnosed by their doctors — told they have illnesses from psychiatric disorders to rheumatoid arthritis or dozens of others — There are over 300 illnesses that mimic Lyme disease.

I am fortunate to have a doctor who actually listens to me and is willing to think “outside the box.” I hope your readers are as fortunate. A simple blood test can help diagnose Lyme disease — if you are experiencing unexplained symptoms that resemble the flu or joint pain, have the test administered.

Even after being treated with antibiotics upwards of 25 percent of Lyme disease suffers still experience symptoms of the affliction, months or years after they contracted it.

We just don’t know enough about this most debilitating disease. I can assure you that there are many people suffering from “Lyme flare-ups” that don’t even know they have the disease.

Also, people have the impression that you must see a bull’s-eye rash on your body to show you have contracted Lyme disease, and this is just not true. All I can say is talk to your doctor if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

We are lucky to have at least two people representing us regarding this issue, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Chris Gibson. Their offices have been working closely with the federal Center for Disease Control to figure out how to control this disease. Last year over 300,000 cases were reported in the US, 10 times the number reported in prior years — This sounds like an epidemic to me. Get yourself checked out along with your children. Why go on suffering? And above all — always check your body for ticks.

I have been coping with Lyme disease, and I can assure you it’s no walk in the park.

Harold Kelly, Preston Hollow, NY

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