Lyme Disease Symposium coming to Andover May 11

ANDOVER — A neurologist from New York, an activist from New Jersey and a researcher from California will join local experts May 11 for the third annual Lyme Disease Symposium in Andover.

“Lyme disease is becoming a serious health issue in Ohio,” said Connie Moschell of Cherry Valley in Ashtabula County, who started the NE Ohio Lyme Foundation, the non-profit organization that puts on the symposiums.

“Many people have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and the numbers are growing at an alarming rate. Options in Ohio and surrounding states for diagnosis and treatment are limited. Through this organization we hope to provide awareness and support for those suffering with Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease, an infection caused by bacteria transmitted by bites from infected deer ticks, has been on the rise in eastern Ohio.

The bite often causes a rash, likely in a bull’s-eye pattern, and produces flu-like symptoms, twitching and shortness of breath in its early stages. Victims generally make a full recovery if treated right away with oral antibiotics, but untreated, the disease spreads to the joints, nervous system and sometimes to other organs, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation. It can cause permanent damage.

Moschell, a registered nurse at St. Joseph Warren Hospital, started the NE Ohio Lyme Foundation after both of her daughters were diagnosed and she had so much trouble finding answers.

Megan Tilton, now 22, ended up in a wheelchair for quite some time after she was bitten by a tick in 2005 but not diagnosed until 2012.

“A tick was embedded in my head. Mom found it when she was brushing my hair. I was 9 years old,” Tilton said.

Moschell said by the time symptoms were presenting in 2009 — headaches, joint pain, fevers, heart dysrhythmia, weakness of limbs — the tick was largely forgotten.

“For 2 1/2 years, we were seeking answers,” Moschell said. “Over and over, we were told she needed psychiatric help, that she’s making it up.”

By the time it was diagnosed, the disease had became chronic. Treatment was slow and long, but this year, Megan has been able to return to college

Moschell’s daughter Sara also was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014.

“Because of awareness and understanding of Lyme disease from our experiences with Megan, Sara’s diagnosis was made quickly and her treatment has been less complex,” she said.

Lyme disease has become more and more prevalent in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the two states that border eastern Ohio, and more cases continue to migrate into Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2017, the last year for which statistics are available, Pennsylvania reported 77.2 incidences of Lyme disease per 100,000 population, up from its three-year average of 66.7 incidences, and West Virginia reported 27.7 cases per 100,000 population, up from the three-year average of 19 incidences.

Ohio in 2017 reported 2 cases per 100,000 population, up from its 1.3 three-year average.

Thirty-one confirmed cases of Lyme disease were reported in Trumbull County between 2000 and 2016, according to the CDC. The most in one year was six in 2004. No cases have been reported in Trumbull County this year.

Between 2000 and 2016, there were 44 confirmed cases reported in Mahoning County, 28 in Portage, 14 in Ashtabula and 11 in Geauga.

In reality, the numbers are higher, according to the CDC. State health departments report about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease per year to the CDC, but studies show that’s about a tenth of the actual number of diagnosed cases, according to the CDC.

“It has been our desire to bring awareness and education so others do not have to suffer,” Moschell said. Hence, the creation of the symposiums, which are held in May, which is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

The symposium will run 9 a.m to 5 p.m. May 11 at Veterans Memorial Performing Arts Center at Pymatuning Valley Local Schools, 5571 U.S. Route 6 W, Andover. Cost is $20 and lunch will be provided by Panera Bread. Tickets can be purchased at www.neohiolyme.eventbrite.com

Scheduled speakers are:

• Dr. Charles Curie, of the Country Doctor Veterinary Clinic in Jefferson, will share his knowledge of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in the animal population.

• Dr. Elena Frid, a neurologist and clinical neurophysiologist from New York who specializes in infections-induced autoimmune disorders, will discuss complex cases of Lyme disease and co-infections resulting in various neurological complaints.

• Dr. Linda D’Eramo, who practices functional and integrative medicine in Pittsburgh, will share the complexities and treatments of viruses and other pathogens that affect those battling Lyme disease.

• Dr. Adam Davis, a chiropractor and clinical nutritionist from Jefferson, will talk about the importance of proper nutrition while battling chronic illness.

• Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association Inc. from New Jersey, will discuss raising awareness and funds for research for Lyme and tick-borne diseases, education and related issues.

• Robert Giguere, of IGENEX Lab Inc. based in Milpitas, Calif., will share information about correct testing and current trends for tick-borne diseases.

• Dr. Glen Needham, associate professor emeritus of entomology at Ohio State University, will discuss his research of ticks and how they have affected NE Ohio.

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