from a Global Lyme Alliance Forum held at the Chappaqua Library to Spread Awareness
By Justin Ellick
Chappaqua, NY—The Global Lyme Alliance recently held a forum at the Chappaqua Library offering tips to the audience on how to prevent Lyme disease from the get-go. The forum was sponsored by the Town of New Castle’s recently formed Health and Wellness Committee.
The Global Lyme Alliance, which was originally formed by the merger between the Lyme Research Alliance and the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, is a leading private nonprofit organization across the United States that is dedicated to finding a cure and more accurate testing for the disease. Today, the Global Lyme Alliance has gained national recognition for its commitment to shifting the course of Lyme disease. They’ve accomplished this by funding ground-breaking research, while also expanding education programs for the public and physicians.
While it’s possible to to catch the subtle disease in its early stages,” said Global Lyme Alliance Board Member Derin Walden, “in many cases, the disease can be active for months before it becomes noticeable.”
“Lyme disease wasn’t even a thought,” continued Walden when she spoke at the forum. “There was no tick-bite or rash and it just did not occur to either myself or my doctor. After three to four months of my symptoms just rapidly increasing, with the help of the internet, I finally approached my doctor and asked her to test me for Lyme disease.”
As Walden pointed out when she spoke, there was no rash or infamous bulls-eye mark to provide her with a red flag. As a matter of fact, fewer than half of the people who contract the disease ever develop a rash or a bulls-eye, which has historically served as the universal way to tell whether you’ve caught Lyme or not.
Because of this, it’s important for people to be somewhat educated when it comes to the several possible symptoms of Lyme besides just the rash, as well as adopting safe and efficient techniques to prevent the disease altogether.
The forum was of special import to parents in Chappaqua, as attendees learned from the Global Lyme Alliance presentation that children are at the greatest risk for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The presentation also offered several prevention tips for parents to implement into their daily lives, as ticks can be a problem all year round, not just in the spring and summer months. One technique the Alliance recommended was to apply EPA-approved repellents like DEET or permethrin to clothing, skin, and shoes as directed. One audience member at the forum shared her experience using one of these repellents, which she says works great for her and her kids.
“I spray my kids’ baseball bags, knapsacks, winter coats, basically their entire wardrobe”, said the Chappaqua mother. “Once it’s dry, the repellent can last up to six weeks. It’s really saved me and my family a lot of stress when it comes to ticks and Lyme disease.”
Besides equipping parents with prevention techniques and tips, the Global Lyme Alliance has also developed a curriculum called “It’s Time to Be Lyme Alert” so that kids of all ages can learn about the disease in a fun and interactive way. The curriculum was designed by the Alliance in partnership with educators to be shared with kids while in the classroom, at camp, or any other youth-focused organizations. The program, available in three age-group levels, includes a student workbook that outlines the objectives and key talking points, along with a supporting teachers’ guide.
Parents and children alike need to learn more about Lyme disease, how to recognize early symptoms and how to prevent it, especially because medical professionals are still learning about it themselves; it’s vital to be vigilant or yourself and your children, the speaker urged. “We want people to be able to recognize early symptoms so that they can be their own advocate when it comes to the disease. Medical professionals are now learning more and more about these tick-borne illnesses, but you have to be your own advocate for yourself and for your kids.” For more information, visit www.globallymealliance.org
Greeley grad Justin Ellick, who has completed a junior year majoring in Media and Communications Major at Ursinus College in Philadelphia, joins Inside Chappaqua and Inside Armonk Magazines for a second internship this summer.