Learn about Lyme disease in Florida; take the challenge

By Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Doctors have long assumed that Lyme disease is only prevalent in colder states in the Northeast.  But the Florida Lyme Disease Association says Florida is among the top 20 states for the number of cases reported every year.

To make matters worse, people who suffer Lyme disease in the South face significant challenges due to both misinformation and poor awareness. The Centers for Disease Control's National Lyme Disease Case Map is misleading to southern citizens and health care providers due to artificially low reported cases.

Thousands in the Lyme community came up with a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and funds to improve Lyme diagnosis and treatment. All proceeds will go to International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. A group of five mothers from across the country have been managing the campaign on behalf of the millions impacted by Lyme worldwide.

They are asking you to take a picture or record a short video of yourself biting into a lime, post it on your social media site with a fact about Lyme disease with the hashtag #lymediseasechallenge. Then tag three friends, challenging them to pass it on.

Facts from the Lyme Disease Association:

  • Studies show that up to half of all patients with Lyme disease received false negative results. This delayed diagnosis means they don't receive needed treatment in a timely manner.
  • Children are at the highest risk of contracting Lyme disease and are more vulnerable to central nervous system infections.
  • The CDC estimates that there are 300,000 new cases each year in the United States, 10 times more Americans than previously reported. Some experts believe the actual number of new cases could be as high as 1-2 million new cases per year in the U.S. alone.
  • Lyme disease has been called "the great imitator" and can be mistaken for numerous diseases such as ALS, MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease, autism and other difficult-to-diagnose multi-system illnesses.
  • Lyme disease is prevalent across the United States and throughout the world.


Statistics of Lyme disease in Florida:

  • The CDC's statistics show an overall increase in Lyme disease cases in Florida and other areas of the United States in recent years.
  • Since 2003, there have been a total of 637 confirmed and 102 probable cases in Florida. Using the CDC's estimate that there are 10 times more cases than reported, this would equate to 6,370 confirmed and 1,020 suspected cases in the state.
  • The number of confirmed plus suspected cases has more than tripled over the last 10 years in the state. Florida is among the top 20 states for the number of cases reported annually.
  • Florida is considered "endemic" for Lyme Disease by the Florida Department of Health.
  • Lyme disease is typically transmitted by multiple species of ticks that are found in Florida.


Symptoms of Lyme disease:

The CDC says that Lyme disease is most common among boys aged 5-19.  For the list of symptoms click here.

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