Lyme Disease patients raising awareness on disease - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lyme Disease patients raising awareness on disease

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WATERLOO (KWWL)-- A group of northeast Iowans is trying to raise awareness about the dangers of Lyme Disease.  The CDC estimates nearly 30,000 people were found to have the tick-borne illness nationwide in 2008.  The disease is difficult to diagnose, but you can limit your risk.

"I woke up paralyzed from the neck on down.  Actually in 2002, 8 years ago this month.  And it was 45 minutes to an hour, but I don't care how long it is.  It's really a life changing event," said Kent Larsen, a Lyme Disease patient.

"The hard thing is I've been off work and on disability because of this.  I'd like to get back into the work force.  But you have no idea hour to hour, things change.  You have no idea how you're going to feel.  So that's pretty rough," said Tiffani Hess, a Lyme Disease patient.

Hess and Larsen are two Northeast Iowans sharing about their struggle with Lyme Disease.  Kent Larsen and both of his daughters have Lyme.  Tiffani Hess just got her diagnosis about a year ago.  Dealing with the physical and emotional pain of the affliction has turned their lives upside down. Even getting the diagnosis of Lyme was a challenge.

"Lyme Disease is a mimicker of all diseases basically.  I had so many diagnoses of different types of inflammation, or auto immune, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, possible ALS or multiple sclerosis," Larsen said.

Misdiagnosis is one reason Hess and her friends Jon Van Blaricom are hoping to raise awareness about Lyme and how you can limit your risk of getting the disease.

"Be careful out in the woods.  Be careful to always check yourself in the grassy areas or anywhere.  Bug spray is a big deal.  And those are things I failed to do," Hess said.

Hess now has antibiotic medicine injected through her arm to treat her Lyme, while patients like Larsen see out-of-state specialists to get help.  They just want to prevent others from dealing with their struggles by wearing green ribbons, organizing a support group, and educating anyone they can about this tick-borne illness.

The local Lyme support group will show a film on the disease Thursday at 5:30 in the Waterloo Public Library, rooms A and B.  The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

This is a map of Lyme Disease instances in the United States according to the most recent report from the CDC. Lyme Disease is now considered one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the U.S.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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