COVID-19, also referred to as our “invisible enemy” by President Trump, has received worldwide attention. The news coverage is inundated with updated statistics and demographics of those who have tested positive for this deadly virus, as well those that have unfortunately succumbed to it. These numbers are thought to be vastly underestimated due to limited testing access. We’re warned of underlying health conditions contributing to susceptibility to the virus and how each of us can do our part to protect ourselves and others from spreading or acquiring the virus. We hear the devastating effects on the economy, unemployment rates, and overburden to the healthcare systems. Understandably, many fields have been working fastidiously in collaboration to stop the spread of this deadly virus which has stopped our world in its tracks. There is no question as to the serious nature of rapidly finding an effective treatment, cure, and ultimately a vaccine for the Coronavirus. We are all truly in this together.
Even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already another invisible enemy, Lyme disease, which our government has been aware of for decades. This is our country’s silent pandemic, as each year there are more than 300,000 new cases reported in the United States alone. This is a vast underestimate as there is no standard or accurate reporting method and no accurate testing available to the masses. Thus, the numbers of cases each year could possibly be in the millions.
Recently, President Trump interviewed a panel at the White House, all of which had recovered from COVID-19. One attendee was Michigan’s District 9 State Representative, Karen Whitsett. During the meeting, she shared that she has an underlying medical condition of chronic Lyme disease which puts her in the high risk category for contracting COVID-19. Trump quickly acknowledged Lyme disease and referred to it as “very very bad” and even “brutal.”
Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) do not endorse the diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease. Therefore, physicians cannot treat it and insurance companies will not cover it.
Lyme Literate Doctors (LLMD) are pioneers, heroes, and life lines for those in the Lyme world and are highly sought out for their individualized long term care and treatment. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough LLMD to treat the overwhelming population of Lyme sufferers. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) dedicates itself to the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and associated diseases and brings much needed attention to the forefront for those suffering, as they seek governmental support and action in regard to the chronic nature of Lyme and other tick borne illness.
Unlike informative coverage of COVID-19, the general public is unaware of Lyme Disease and its long term debilitating physical and emotional effects on those not diagnosed and treated immediately. Too many are left undiagnosed and suffering unimaginably for years, unfortunately leaving some to resort to suicide as a means to end their torment. Many Lyme sufferers have lost jobs, homes, significant others, become disabled, and have gone into debt paying out of pocket for treatment. Many cannot afford treatment.
The news doesn’t report how tick-borne illnesses are spread or how to protect oneself from them. While Lyme may not be spread through the air, it is easily spread through ticks which fall off of their hosts leaving humans to pick them up often unknowingly. Lyme is also able to spread in utero, often without the mother knowing she is a carrier. Imagine the masses coming forward seeking treatment and the financial burden on the medical system and insurance industry if chronic Lyme disease was recognized. Is it possible these issues contribute to the silent pandemic?
My hope is that once we have flattened the curve on the deadly COVID-19 virus and developed accurate testing, effective treatment, and hopefully an immunization, that Lyme disease will come to the forefront, as it has increasingly grave implications if nothing more is done to combat this ticking time bomb. . .