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US Woman Suffers Devastating Symptoms From Lyme Disease
Saturday 4 May 2019
Caroline woman suffers devastating symptoms from Lyme disease
When Natalie Lunceford tries to describe the disease that first caused horrible flu symptoms, then progressed to the point that she couldn’t get out of bed because her knees swelled to the size of cantaloupes, she finds herself at a loss for words.
“It’s a pain I haven’t been able to describe,” the Caroline County woman said, “except to say it feels like I’m being eaten or burned alive.”
Lunceford’s problems started 19 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Lyme disease was confirmed. Lyme is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, meaning it’s transmitted by the bite of a tick from an infected animal to a human. Recent research suggests other insects, such as spiders, also may be carriers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year.
Those who get its telltale bull’s-eye rash and are treated quickly with antibiotics may be able to keep the disease at bay. But for others, like the 60-year-old Lunceford, who never saw a rash, the symptoms linger and transform, becoming harder to diagnose and even more difficult to treat.
A study published last month in BMC Public Health suggested that as many as 2 million American could be suffering with the little-understood aspect of the condition, called post-treatment Lyme disease.
“If you don’t catch it right away, you’re sunk,” Lunceford said, adding that because “Lyme is the great imitator,” her symptoms mirrored so many other conditions for more than a decade.
She was told she had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, diseases that compromise the immune system or inflame the joints. She visited a local emergency room when she experienced such crushing fatigue, vomiting and disorientation that she couldn’t even sit up, and a doctor suggested she had psychiatric problems.
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