The Deadly Impact of Lyme disease in PA: an event to honor victims and raise awareness

Can a tiny tick bite kill? The alarming answer is YES!  Pennsylvania already leads the nation with the highest number of Lyme disease cases.  According to the CDC, there were more than 12,200 cases reported in 2016, but the CDC believes the “real” number of unreported cases is 10 times higher- more than 120,000 cases in Pennsylvania alone. This invisible disease can cause intense joint pain, fatigue, and brain fog—it can also be deadly.
“Lyme carditis causes fatal abnormalities in heart rhythm.  Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem and there is an urgent need for prevention and timely diagnosis”, said Dr. Marina Makous.  Dr. Makous is an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University Medical Center where she also completed a fellowship at Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-borne Disease Research Center.
 
Lyme and other tick-borne diseases claimed the lives of at least 3 people in 2017, including 25-year-old Pete Smith of Quakertown.  Pete’s mom, Angie Smith said “My understanding of Lyme disease was very minimal.  I didn’t know that it was deadly. Lyme is a silent killer.  I had no idea it could take a person in a short manner of time. Our family will never be the same.”
 
Lyme also killed 29-year-old Kevin Furey of Conshohocken and 50-year-old Jeff Naticchia of Newtown died of Babesia, caused by a tick bite.  “I don’t think most people realize how serious these diseases can be. There are so many illnesses caused by a tick bite that can be fatal.  We’re still struggling with the shock of Jeff’s death and trying to get on with things every day”, said Crissy Naticchia.
 
To honor their lives and raise awareness, Pennsylvania Lyme Resource Network (PALRN) and Drexel University College of Medicine are hosting a one night only event. The PA Premiere of “the little things”, a theatrical docudrama that tells the true story of Joseph Elone who died from Lyme disease. Joe came home from summer camp in 2013 and began showing symptoms of Lyme but a test came back negative.  Joe later collapsed and died. Writer/actor/filmmaker Jeremy Davidson and his wife, Mary Stuart Masterson, heard about Lyme and partnered with the Elone family to tell their son’s story. “the little things” puts a face on this invisible and sometimes deadly disease.
 
“We want communities to understand the seriousness of Lyme/tick-borne diseases by commemorating 3 lives tragically lost in 2017, preventable with the right knowledge. Our goal with this event is to motivate communities to take action and protect themselves.  This event will provide prevention information and access to top experts”, said Julia Wagner of PALRN.
 
The performance is Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Lenfest Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center at Ursinus College in Collegeville.  Doors open 5 p.m; Show at 6:30 p.m.; VIP Reception Post-Show.  After the performance, a panel of experts will be available to answer questions. PALRN is a non-profit. All proceeds will be used to educate the public about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and ways to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Purchase tickets here.