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Delaware Tops in Lyme Disease

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Delaware has been #1 or #2 in Lyme disease incidence each year for the past five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Such facts and challenges were highlighted at an educational fundraiser on June 6 at the Wilmington Club benefitting LymeMD, the Lyme Disease Research Foundation. The event featured preeminent Lyme disease physician-researcher at Johns Hopkins and founder of LymeMD, Dr. John Aucott, who addressed an audience of 150 on the topic of “Misconceptions, Misdiagnoses & Mistreatment: What You Need to Know About the Current Epidemic & Paths to Answers.”

Dr. Aucott discussed challenges with diagnosis since the characteristic bull’s eye rash does not always resemble textbook cases or may not be present, and since currently available tests can be inaccurate early in the disease. If not treated right away, Lyme can become progressively more difficult to treat. Even with rapid diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment, 10% to 20% of people experience persistent symptoms two years after infection. Through LymeMD, Dr. Aucott is conducting a landmark clinical study, currently in its fourth year, to uncover the biological, chemical and genetic basis for what some call chronic Lyme disease, a condition not currently accepted by the medical community.

Wilmington residents Fontayne Rollins Fox and Judy Landis Setting shared testimonies on the challenges of living with chronic Lyme. Fontayne has had symptoms for 20 years and Judy since the birth of her son 4-1/2 years ago. In addition to challenges with identifying early Lyme, diagnosis can be extremely challenging at the later stages, as current diagnostics can be unreliable, and Lyme affects so many tissues and organs and causes such a wide range of confusing symptoms that it is difficult to diagnose on symptoms alone. Chronic Lyme can lead to tremendous disability that is impacting tens of thousands or more people like Fontayne and Judy nationwide.

The event raised awareness and funding for several collaborative studies, but much more research is necessary for understanding Lyme and preventing the potentially devastating chronic form of the disease. The hope is that promising research conducted by Dr. Aucott, his collaborators and others will yield better diagnostics, treatments and ultimately a cure.

The June 6 event was sponsored by Glenmede Investment & Wealth Management, Setting Properties, Dental Associates of Delaware and Trail Creek Outfitters. Hosts included Jeb Connor, Fontayne & Steve Fox, Jeff & Beth Horstman, Diana Sheppard Quinlan, Carin & John Rollins III, Diana Rollins, Jeff & Kim Rollins, and Judy & Joseph Setting.

For more information, please go to www.LymeMD.org.

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