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Taking on ticks

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 8:32 AM EDT
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Fever, chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, body aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting … sounds like the symptoms of COVID. But actually, it’s Lyme disease. And this year is expected to be an exceptionally bad year for ticks. In fact, because more people are spending time outdoors and in the wilderness, due to the pandemic, experts fear more people will come down with Lyme disease. We talked to one teen who is on a mission to educate, track and cure this life-altering disease.

This is a good day for 15-year-old Olivia Goodreau. But not every day is a good day.

“We call those Lyme days, where I wake up and I feel awful again,” shared Olivia.

Since the second grade, Olivia has lived in pain.

“I started to lose my vision and I couldn’t physically hold up my head and I had a tremor in my right hand,” Olivia continued.

“She could barely walk,” stated, Holiday Goodreau, Olivia’s mom.

It took 51 doctors and 18 months to get a diagnosis.

“I never saw the tick and I never had a bullseye rash,” said Olivia.

That same tick that gave Olivia Lyme disease gave her five other diseases.

Olivia shared, “I have Lyme disease, Bartonella, BCM, pot syndrome, relapsing fever, and an antitrypsin deficiency.”

Her doctor said Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis and even dementia. But there is one telltale sign.

Richard Horowitz, MD, a board-certified internist at Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center said, “You have migratory muscle pain or migratory nerve pain, tingling, numbness, burning, stabbing. That is the hallmark of Lyme.”

Olivia was on a whopping 86 pills a day. Her treatments cost more than $150,000. That’s why Olivia started the LivLyme Foundation.

“I realized that I couldn’t just sit around do nothing,” said Olivia.

Since 2017, LivLyme has awarded 49 grants as well as raised research funds for three of the top Lyme disease doctors. Olivia has now developed a free app tick tracker that lets users report tick sightings, in real time, hoping that everything she does now will spare another child from living with Lyme.

Olivia also helped pass a $150 million bill called The Kay Hagan Tick Act that President Trump signed last year. Kay Hagan passed away from complications from Lyme disease. The Tick Act takes a comprehensive approach to address Lyme and other tick and vector-borne diseases. To find out more about Lyme disease, donate or apply for a grant, you can go to livlymefoundation.org.

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