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Lyme Disease in the South



Dothan, AL - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently declared May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month, but a diagnosis can be hard to come by in the state.

Kendrea White changed a lot in three years.

“I was energetic and athletic,” she said.

In 2010 she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, but she developed other symptom that just wouldn’t go away. Kendrea and her mom saw doctor after doctor. Finally, she got an answer.

“It was UAB that diagnosed me with Lyme. I have positive band 23, which they say is a dead giveaway for lyme disease and band 41,” she said.

Kendrea tested positive twice, but those results go against the Centers for Disease Control. According to the CDC, Lyme disease doesn’t exist in Alabama.

“That’s the truth about Lyme disease. You can’t get it around here. You’ve got to go north of North Carolina to be in the southern range of Lyme bearing ticks,” said Dr. Chris Miller.

He is an infectious disease specialist at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center. He said those who contract the disease couldn’t get it in the state.

“They most likely traveled to some Lyme endemic area and were diagnosed here. But you can’t get it around here. Because it’s not in the ticks,” said Miller.

But no matter who is right, it is obvious Kendrea is deteriorating. The combination of Crohn’s and Lyme diseases makes it difficult to treat her condition. She is now receiving Hospice care, but remains hopeful for herself and others.

“I still believe in miracles and I know with God nothing is impossible,” said Kendrea. “I feel like there is a purpose for me to help people. God kept me here to help people. I hope it saves other people from having to go through this. No one should have to grow through this.”

Lyme Disease is easily treated if diagnosed in the early stages. But it is commonly called the “great imitator” because the symptoms mimic so many other diseases. Some people believe that could cause a high rate of misdiagnosis.

Last month, the Alabama legislature passed a joint resolution to create a center for patients with neuro-endocrine-immune diseases, including Lyme Disease. The national advocacy organization, Pandora, said about 60 percent of Alabama patients with a complex chronic disease searched for more than two years for an accurate diagnosis.

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