Miss Contra Costa- Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Hey everyone! Happy Lyme Disease Awareness Month! In the #MissAmerica Organization, each contestant is required to have a personal platform. I am Miss Contra Costa County and my platform is Get Ticked Off at Lyme Disease! You might be thinking, what is Lyme disease?

Lyme ChallengeLyme disease is a bacterial infection that is caused by bacteria, called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted by ticks. Ticks are usually found in wooded and grassy areas. Lyme disease is often called the great imitator because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. Symptoms include flu-like symptoms, migraines, a bulls-eye rash, bells palsy, paralysis, seizures, joint pain, memory loss, fatigue, cognitive impairment, and many more. Symptoms of Lyme disease significantly overlap symptoms of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Many patients report being misdiagnosed before getting the correct diagnosis of Lyme disease.

IMG_4257Because of this, there are hundreds of thousands of people living with Lyme disease who have either been left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. In addition, most blood tests are unreliable. The treatment guidelines for Lyme disease can be complicated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines state that Lyme disease can be treated with 10-28 days of antibiotics, like doxycycline or amoxicillin. Unfortunately, these guidelines haven’t been updated in nearly 10 years. They don’t recognize chronic Lyme disease, or long-term Lyme disease, which leaves many patients in treatment limbo.

I chose Lyme disease as my platform because I contracted Lyme disease 5 years ago. Because I was aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease, I was able to get treatment early, which could save me years of pain if the bacteria stays dormant in my body. After I discovered that children were the most susceptible to contracting Lyme disease, I developed my Get Ticked Off at Lyme Disease! with CLAPS! Program especially for children. It is a 3 step program with 5 tips designed to teach kids how to be safe before, while, or after they hike or play. This program was designed with teachers in mind—it comes with a PowerPoint presentation, easy to follow teacher notes, various worksheets, a take-home pamphlet for students, and a song. Each lesson follows current common core standards so it can be taught in schools. I have taught my lesson to classrooms throughout Contra Costa County and am always so amazed by how quickly children can learn and remember how to be tick safe!

IMG_3345How can you help spread Lyme disease awareness? Since it is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, one way you can help is to take the #LymeDiseaseChallenge and donate to ILADS or the #Lime4Lyme Challenge and donate to the Bay Area Lyme Foundation! If you don’t know what to do, take a look at my video below!

Thank you for spreading Lyme disease awareness! To stay up to date with my journey to #MissCalifornia and my advocacy, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Angela Laird
Miss Contra Costa County 2015