Detecting Lyme Disease: Video report
KXAN TV, Austin, Texas, USA, September, 2004

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Detecting Lyme Disease: Video report
KXAN TV, Austin, Texas, USA, September 2, 2004

Video Transcript:

The West Nile Virus has certainly grabbed its fair share of the headlines. One local health expert says Lyme Disease should be of greater concern to Texas residents.

A cell phone rings, and you answer it. That simple task becomes painfully difficult for Lyman Jones who's recovering from Lyme Disease.

"I would have to get the cell phone that's hard to flip," Jones said.

Jones was an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School when he first got sick three years ago. He was initially diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gerhig's Disease.

"For about 18 months, I thought I had ALS, and I thought I was going to have a slow, crippling decline and I would have to say goodbye to everybody, but now it's like having a new lease on life," Jones said.

Five months ago, Jones met Family Nurse Practitioner Ginger Savely.

"He was an outdoorsy guy. He led expeditions and hikes through the wilderness. Certainly had a lot of exposure potential so certainly someone like that the red flag goes up on my mind," Lyme Disease expert Ginger Savely said.

Savely is considered one of the top Lyme Disease experts in the country. She says while the West Nile Virus gets most of media exposure, Lyme Disease should get the lion's share of the attention.

That's because the disease, which is caused by Borellia bacteria and transmitted through deer ticks and now possibly even mosquitoes and horseflies, is more likely to affect a lot more people than West Nile.

"It tricks you. It's called the new great imitator," Savely said.

Savely says often Lyme Disease patients are incorrectly diagnosed with everything from Lupus to MS to Parkinson's to ALS. All usually sporting a rash and complaining of a stiff neck, head and body aches.

"The symptoms are so flu-like which is confusing, but we don't normally see a lot of flu in the summer so you have to be suspicious if it's the spring or the summer and you're showing flu like symptoms," Savely said.

Five months ago, Jones could barely walk and talk. Even though he still faces perhaps two years of treatment, he's thankful.

"I would never think I would say hooray I have Lyme disease, but when you go from ALS to Lyme, it's really wonderful," Jones said.

Savely has been named the Texas Nurse Practitioner of the Year for her work with hundreds of Lyme Disease patients from all over the country.

For more information, call 301-263-1080 or check out International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society's Web site.