As most of my friends know, my family of four caught Lyme disease in 1996. At the time, we could not find anyone else in Texas who had Lyme. We were extremely lucky to find an excellent neurologist in Dallas who cured us, but it took from four months to three years of antibiotic treatment before we were all well. This was a life-changing experience for me. In the years that followed, I began meeting hundreds of Texans with Lyme, many of whom had been sick for years, even decades, without knowing they had Lyme. They had been misdiagnosed, as we were, with anything from depression (“it’s all in your head”) to MS, Lupus, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many have lost friends or spouses and had to quit work or school Some must go on permanent disability. Together with 4 other women, I founded the Texas Lyme Disease Association to educate the public and medical community about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. It took several years to find board members who were well enough and/or dedicated enough with the skills we needed to make significant progress. During those years, the situation for Lyme patients grew worse. Most patients have to travel out of state for treatment. It is especially bad for children, the most vulnerable to getting tick bites, since there are no pediatricians in Texas who diagnose and treat Lyme. Finally, TXLDA has begun educating physicians in the complex treatment of tick-borne diseases, but we continually fight the misperception that there is no Lyme in Texas or that, if there it is, that the problem is small. Not a day goes by that TXLDA is not contacted by a patient desperate to find a doctor who can treat them for Lyme. Recent research at Texas A&M is finding that 25% of all ticks in Texas are infected with Lyme. That is up from 1-4% 20 years ago.
At present, the State of Texas devotes no funds to this, the greatest public health threat next to AIDS, and only TXLDA is bringing accredited CME courses on Lyme to Texas. Please help us raise awareness of this severe public health threat.