Aside from a brief reference in a New York Times interview in 2011, Alec Baldwin has stayed quiet about his ongoing battle with Lyme disease. But over the weekend, he made an appearance at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation LymeAid benefit to raise awareness about Lyme disease and opened up about his own struggles with the disease.
People reports that Baldwin said he had a suspicion that he was dealing with symptoms of Lyme disease even before he was officially diagnosed. He was initially treated for the disease 17 years ago after being bitten by a tick. But he was bitten again a few years later.
"I got the classic Lyme disease [symptoms] for each successive summer, for five years, every August, like this black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed,” Baldwin said, according to People.
According to Baldwin, the first round was the most severe. “I really thought, This is it, I’m not going to live. I was alone, I wasn’t married at the time, I was divorced from my first wife. I was lying in bed saying, I’m going to die of Lyme disease, in my bed and I hope someone finds me and I’m not here for too long." However, he said his symptoms have diminished since then.
According to the CDC, Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread to humans by infected ticks. Lyme disease has a wide array of symptoms, depending on the stage of the infection. Most commonly, that includes a fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, and a red rash (often in the shape of a bullseye) that occurs at the site of the bite. For most people, however, antibiotics are an effective treatment.
The species of tick that is known to cause Lyme — the blacklegged tick — is found in several areas of the U.S., but most of the CDC's reported Lyme disease cases occurred in Northeast and north-central states, such as Maryland, Delaware, and the tri-state area. Of course, that doesn't mean that the rest of us are immune from infection, especially with tick season expected to be particularly nasty this year.
In fact, Baldwin said that his own struggle with Lyme has reinforced just how important it is for him to stay vigilant in taking care of his children. "I want my kids to grow up riding horses and bikes and to not have to spend every day with us going over them with a magnifying glass to make sure they don’t have any ticks," he said. But, unfortunately, that's part of life in areas where Lyme disease is a very real possibility.
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