Chesterton Tribune



Rotary told Lyme disease common, debilitating and often misdiagnosed

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May was Lyme Disease Awareness Month, but the ticks that carry the bacterium causing Lyme will be active in forests, fields, and maybe even folks’ backyards for months to come.

That’s why Chesterton resident Brandi Silvonek-Durko, a Lyme sufferer for 10 years, spoke to the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club at its meeting Tuesday afternoon: to raise awareness of the disease, which many physicians have begun to see as a far more debilitating, chronic, and painful malady than the medical community at first recognized.

Lyme is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium and is known to be transmitted by tick bite. It was first identified in 1975 in Old Lyme, Conn., where children were mysteriously presenting symptoms initially diagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Lyme, in fact, has been called “The Great Imitator,” as sufferers have been variously diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, ALS, Parkinson’s, MS, Lupus, and depression.

Silvonek-Durko herself spent nine years making the rounds of doctors, being variously told that her chronic fatigue and pain were the result of fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, pelvic floor dysfunction, interstitial cystitis, and insomnia, before finally being diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014.

“You would be shocked by the number of people in our community with the same story,” Silvonek-Durko told the Chesterton Tribune. “They either have been diagnosed and are having a difficult time finding a doctor to treat them, or they are suffering and still do not know why they are sick and can’t get better.”

To avoid Lyme, one needs to avoid ticks. Some tips:

* Avoid tick-infested areas. Be sure to walk in the middle of trails.

* Treat skin, clothing, and gear with appropriate repellents (permethrin on clothes/gear, DEET on skin).

* Tuck pants into socks.

* Perform at least daily tick checks anytime you are outdoors, even if only in your own backyard. Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed. Shower within one hour of being outdoors to help prevent ticks from attaching.

* Carefully remove any attached ticks. Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out, without twisting. Save the tick for testing.

* Children ages 5 to 14 are at the greatest risk of acquiring Lyme Disease and constitute approximately 25 percent of all reported cases.

Lyme has traditionally been diagnosed when patients are known to have suffered from tick bites present a bull’s-eye rash, joint pain, and fatigue. But less than half of Lyme sufferers recall having experienced such a rash and a common test for Lyme yields a not insignificant number of false negatives, Silvonek-Durko noted.

The CDC has extrapolated from several surveys that as many as 300,000 new cases of Lyme occur every year, compared to 50,000 new HIV infections annually and--so far--no Zika infections attributable to a local mosquito bite, yet despite the high incidence of the disease “there is relatively very meager support for research funding,” Silvonek-Durko said.

For more information, visit or Silvonek-Durko’s Facebook page, Mission to Remission.



Posted 6/2/2016





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