May Is Lyme Awareness Month

By Lorraine Hart

It’s May, and I find myself wanting to be on that grassy triangle at the Purdy traffic lights. This will be the first time in fifteen years I haven’t held our Washington Lyme Rally, holding my, “Lyme Lives Here” sign, and waving to the cars. I began the rallies on my own, earlier in Anna’s twenty-plus years of dealing with Borrelia etc, before she was officially diagnosed—and my frustration with medical politics has continued to make me (and those who have joined me) haul out signs yearly, and wave at passing people. I’m not Chicken Little, the sky is not falling, but the first epidemic of climate change is already here. As our planet warms, cases of vector-borne illnesses double, triple, and we don’t know enough. Our aim is always to reach out to our community with education, not wanting other families to face what we’ve had to, for decades now.

But this is the year of Covid-19 and, trust me, I take the social-distancing very seriously with Anna’s lack of immunities. Though it breaks my heart to cancel, we must. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to shout from every rooftop:

1.   Yes, there are ticks in Washington, and a good percentage of them carry diseases, both bacterial and viral. We have not responded to this crisis early enough! We need state-wide tick drags to gather statistics, and we need better testing. (That last phrase echoes weirdly in my brain)

2.   Education.

3.   Education.

4.   Education—from the general public, to doctors, nurses, and the rest of the medical system. It’s time to UN-learn the, “difficult to get, easy to cure” mantra of those who seek profit over care. Time to learn the truth about these diseases, their origins (Bitten, by Kris Newby is an education in itself) and how to help patients who really, truthfully, suffer. It’s time for a public-awareness program to teach prevention, and what to do when bitten (save that tick, much easier to test!). This could begin with a Proclamation, declaring May, every year, as “Lyme-Awareness Month” with public-service announcements, perhaps programs through the Parks Department.You won’t see us at the Purdy lights this year, but rest assured, we activists are still working on behalf of our communities.  We may not be able to get together in person, but we’re working on a Bill to present in Olympia.  Nothing but the facts, ma’am—we’re turning our backs on the politics, and presenting a Bill about educating Washingtonians on the basics of preventing tick bites, recognizing ticks, and symptoms of infections.  While we take care, specifically in this C-19 crisis, we still can’t stop trying to warn of the epidemic already creeping through the perfect climate of Washington today.

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