Pop singer Avril Lavigne recently opened up about her struggle with Lyme disease on ABC's "Good Morning America." Her candid confession brought attention to the debilitating bacterial infection.
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, it mostly occurs in the northeast and upper Midwest regions of the country.
Lavigne confessed that initially doctors could not get to the bottom of the problem as she became bedridden last October. “They would pull up their computer and be like, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome.’ Or, ‘Why don't you try to get out of bed, Avril, and just go play the piano?’ It's like, ‘Are you depressed?,’” the 30-year-old Canadian singer reportedly said.
“I started going to other doctors and, like, specifically telling them and asking, like, ‘I have Lyme disease. I know I do. Can you check me?’” Lavigne said in the interview. "Then I finally figured out, 'Find a Lyme specialist.'"
Now halfway through her treatment, Lavigne says that she is doing better and could see a “lot of progress.”
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads to humans by infected blacklegged ticks, according to CDC. The tick bite leaves a red mark, which expands a week later. A tick is commonly found in woodland areas that feed on the blood of mammals, birds and humans, the Daily Mirror reported.
In 2013, about 95 percent of over 35,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. were found in 14 states, including Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, according to CDC.
The typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans, according to CDC. If left untreated, the bacterium travels through the bloodstream, houses itself in various body tissues, and can cause a number of symptoms, some of which are severe, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation.
If diagnosed in the early stages, patients recover quickly and completely with proper antibiotics. According to CDC, antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime axetil.
However, about 10 percent to 20 percent of patients (mainly diagnosed at a later stage), who receive appropriate antibiotic treatment, may have persistent or recurrent symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches, and are considered to have post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.