The Famous Faces of Lyme Disease

Author: Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC

We all love reading about what is happening in the lives of our favorite celebrities. Whether it is an athlete that we admire or the talent of our favorite musician, our ears and eyes perk up when they are mentioned in the media. Most of the time the areas reported on most within the world of celebrities are trivial and only gives us a peek into their facade and doesn’t gauge them as “real” people who suffer from “real” problems. Recently, that has started to change as more and more celebrities are coming forward to speak about their ordeal with a sometimes debilitating disease called Lyme Disease.

Dangers of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is a BIG problem caused by the bite of a tiny tick. The Ixodes scapularis tick (AKA the black-legged tick or deer tick) can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease which is called Borrelia burgdorferi. Contrary to belief, ticks are not born infected with the bacterium and must feed on a host infected with the bacterium to become infected and before transmission is possible. The most prevalent source the tick acquires the bacteria from a rodent, such as a white-footed mouse, or field mouse.

The tick then goes on to feed on a secondary host, which could quite possibly be you, a member of your family, or even your pet. Ticks will attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme Disease bacterium can be 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 difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme Disease, but they are much larger and may be more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult Ixodes ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year, such as autumn.

Celebrities Affected by Lyme Disease 

Ticks do not select a host based on gender, race, age, sex, income or social status. Ticks are fiends that 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 regularly, stars aren’t immune to tick bites — and many have used their fame to raise awareness for the illness.

Here are a few of the famous faces that have been touched by the 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 that 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.
  • Alec Baldwin: Few details are known about the actor’s Lyme Disease, but he told the New York Times that his symptoms are chronic and return annually.
  • Alice Walker: award-winning poet, author and civil rights activist. Among her many contributions to the literary world, “The Color Purple” is one of her crowning achievements. The book “The Color Purple” was made into a movie, and Ms. Walker struggled with Lyme disease while filming was taking place. She later documented her struggle with the disease in an essay titled ‘The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult’, which was written and published in 1996.
  • Amy Tan Another well-known author who has suffered from late-stage Lyme disease and has become an activist in the fight to boost awareness of the disease. She is most well-known for her book “The Joy Luck Club.” Amy has her website that chronicles her battle with Lyme disease and tells her story of how Lyme disease affected her life.

Among the list of celebrities that have been diagnosed with Lyme include actor Richard Gere, supermodel Christy Turlington, comedian Ben Stiller,  Governor of New York George E. Pataki, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, and recently singer Debbie Gibson revealed her battle with the disease.

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) works to raise awareness for the 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 most important aspects of tick-borne diseases is getting a proper diagnosis. The TBDA is working on improving both the diagnostics and treatment for dangerous tick-borne diseases.

No Bugs. No Bites. No Kidding. 

Our goal at Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC is to reduce the risk of coming into contact with a tick in the first place because that 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 safe and effective barrier sprays eliminate adult ticks. Our barrier spray is also used in conjunction with our tick tube program that targets the nymph tick. Tick tubes can further decrease the chances of encountering a Lyme infected tick on your property.

The problem of Lyme Disease is large, but the solution to reducing your risk of getting the disease is simple – prevention and control.