Lorraine Hart, left, her son Aaron Rinehart, Gigi Saunders and Anna Hart were in Purdy last month raising awareness about Lyme disease. Photo courtesy Dale Goodvin

A “bull’s-eye” rash is a first indication of an insidious disease that affects an increased number of people every year worldwide.

Home resident Anna Hart has had the disease for some 15 years. According to her, the three stages of Lyme disease include the symptoms of a cold, followed by stomach problems and eventually the brain and heart can become affected. These stages may progress through many years, depending on treatment, but during the final stage the patient will never be well again, she said.

Anna’s mother, Lorraine Hart, is a local activist for Lyme disease.

Lorraine has stood at the Purdy Drive/State Route 302 intersection for three years by herself, trying to build public awareness.

This year, nearly a dozen others joined her at the busy corner, holding signs for passing motorists and pedestrians to take notice.

Lorraine Hart said that people honked, waved, called out positive greetings, and several stopped to ask about the disease and pick up fact brochures.

“We impacted hundreds of people,” Hart said.

According to Hart, thanks to a woman in Sweden who suggested having a worldwide protest, this year 30 countries organized events during May 11-12.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by microscopic bacteria carried by the bite of ticks, or Borrelia burgdorferi. According to Hart, ticks are common in forests, thrive in mild weather and travel on rodents, deer and migratory birds.

This disease is more prevalent than most medical people believe, Hart said.

“Multiply the (statistics) number by at least three,” Anna Hart said. “It’s the fastest growing infectious disease in this country.”

Anna Hart contracted the disease on a canoe trip in Indiana. She said it took three years to be clinically diagnosed and another five years to finally get aggressive treatment from a Lyme Literate specialist (LLMD). She said it took a while for her immune system to rebuild, followed by a detox treatment to prepare it for a regimen of high-dose antibiotics just to get the disease under control.

She still follows an antibiotic regimen, but is not any better off than several years ago, due to a treatment she feels hadn’t been sufficiently studied and tested.

Hart operates an online group for Lyme sufferers in Washington state.

Lorraine said there are no Lyme specialists in Oregon or Idaho, “so people come to Seattle from those states.”

Citizens of other countries come to the United States seeking treatment as well, as their governments restrict medical processes, Lorraine added.

Initial appointments with specialists can cost from $550 to $1,500.

Lorraine said about 85 percent of the medical community knows little about Lyme, and both women have had doctors tell them they are not interested in learning about the debilitating disease.

The United Kingdom is studying the U.S. guidelines about Lyme and planning to revise its own. In that country, a Lyme patient can only receive 28 days of treatment, Anna said.

Both women and others associated with the disease are hopeful the U.K. guidelines will be even better than the U.S. and this country can follow suit.

Anna Hart’s story, photos and a trailer for the film about Lyme (and other references) can be found at myspace.com/hartsoflyme.

For information about the Washington state Lyme support group, visit health.groups.yahoo.com/group/walymefighters/.

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