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In the "Lyme" Light -- The Famous Faces of Lyme Disease

Let’s face it. We all love hearing about what is happening in the lives of our favorite celebrities. Whether it is an athlete that we admire or a favorite band, musician or artist, we love to read about current events. Most of the time, however, what we see are the paparazzi reporting trivial events or half-truths about celebrities that allow us only a peek beyond their façade. These reports don’t present them as real people who suffer from real-life events. Recently, that has started to change as more and more celebrities are coming forward to speak about their very real experience with a sometimes debilitating disease called Lyme Disease.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacterium attributed with the disease. The Ixodes scapularis tick (AKA the black-legged tick or deer tick) can carry the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi , that causes Lyme Disease. Contrary to common belief, ticks are not born infected with the bacterium; they must feed on a host infected with it in order to make disease transmission possible. The most prevalent source from which the tick acquires the bacterium is a rodent such as a white-footed mouse or field mouse.

Once the tick has fed from the rodent, it then seeks a secondary host. This host could be you, a member of your family or even your pet. Ticks will attach themselves to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits or scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme Disease bacterium is transmitted.

Most humans are infected with Lyme Disease through the bite of an immature tick called a nymph. Nymphs are tiny (about the size of a poppy seed) and are difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme Disease, but they are much larger and are more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacterium. Adult deer ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year, such as autumn.

Ticks do not select a host based on gender, race, age, sex, income or social status. Ticks are non-discriminate and will feed on anyone who comes into contact with them, including celebrities. While we might not expect A-list celebrities to be traipsing through wooded, grassy areas on a regular basis, stars aren’t immune to tick bites — and many have used their celebrity status to raise awareness of the illness. Here are a few of the famous faces that have been touched by Lyme Disease:

George W. Bush:
In 2007, the annual report on the president’s health revealed that in August of 2006, Bush had been treated for Lyme Disease. A White House spokesman said the president likely was bitten during a bike ride. He noticed a rash, which doctors treated, and he had no other symptoms or any recurrence, according to CNN.

Daryl Hall:
Duo Hall and Oates were forced to cancel performances in 2005 when Daryl Hall was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

Ben Stiller:
In 2011, “Night at the Museum” star Ben Stiller told a reporter that he was tentatively diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2010 after suffering from a lingering knee injury. He said he believed he contracted the illness in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Among other A-list celebrities who have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease are actor Richard Gere, supermodel Christy Turlington, former Governor of New York George E. Pataki and author Alice Walker. Most recently Kelly Osbourne, daughter of heavy-metal legend Ozzy Osbourne, revealed her battle with stage III neurological Lyme Disease in a new memoir.

Actor, Kevin Bacon joined forces with Global Lyme Alliance formally known as The Tick-Borne Alliance (www.tbdalliance.org) for this Public Service Announcement:

Global Lyme Alliance works to raise awareness of tick-borne disease. They work with other groups around the nation to support initiatives looking to find cures for diseases like Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and more. One of the greatest difficulties of having a tick-borne disease is getting a proper diagnosis. Scientists are working on improving both the diagnostics and treatment for dangerous tick-borne diseases.

On the homefront…

Our goal at Mosquito Squad of Boston Metro South is to reduce your risk of coming into contact with a tick in the first place, because any tick could potentially be harboring a tick-borne illness such as Lyme Disease. Reducing your exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme Disease. We specialize in a tick-prevention-and-control program that targets ticks during each stage of development. Our barrier treatment eliminates mosquitoes and adult ticks. This treatment, when used in conjunction with our tick tube program, also targets the nymph tick, interrupting the life cycle of the tick. Tick tubes can significantly decrease your chances of encountering a Lyme-infected tick on your property.

The problem of Lyme Disease is vast, but the solution to reducing your risk of getting the disease is simple – prevention and control. Contact us to learn more at (781) 297-0123 or email us at [email protected]. You can also fill out a contact form by clicking Alert the Squad to your left.

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