The 30-year-old singer told People she was infected with Lyme after being bitten by a tick last spring. (Photo: Getty Images/Kevin Mazur)
Grammy-nominated singer Avril Lavigne has revealed that she is battling Lyme disease.
Lavigne alluded to experiencing “health issues” late last year. She told People magazine that she felt lethargic for months, even becoming bedridden, until doctors finally diagnosed her months later with severe Lyme disease.
“I had no idea a bug bite could do this,” Lavigne told People. “I was bedridden for five months.” While Lavigne is still not at 100 percent, she is feeling a lot better and will be releasing a new single this month.
Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, and is contracted through tick bites. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the most common indicator is a rash with a bulls-eye pattern that expands from a small, red bump (the site of the tick bite), occurring within a month after infection with the bacteria. A person may also experience flu-like symptoms along with the rash. However, symptoms can progress over the next weeks or months to include joint pain and neurological problems, including meningitis, paralysis, muscle problems and weakness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The condition is especially common in states in the northeast and upper Midwest, such as Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme cases have also been increasing in the U.S. over the last 20 years; in 1995, there were a little more than 10,000 confirmed cases, while in 2013, there were more than 25,000 confirmed cases.
Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme and when administered early on when a person is first infected, recovery is usually quick and complete. However, for 10 to 20 percent of patients, especially those who are diagnosed late, even the antibiotic treatment may not completely eliminate symptoms.
Lavigne isn’t the first celebrity to speak out about her Lyme diagnosis. Read on for more famous names who’ve been touched by the disease:
(Photo: Getty Images/Desiree Navarro)
The actor hasn’t been especially public about his having Lyme, but he did tell The New York Times in 2011 that he has had chronic Lyme disease: “At the same time of year, I get really tired.”
Jamie Lynn Sigler
(Photo: Getty Images/Janette Pellegrini)
The actress perhaps best known for her role on The Sopranos contracted Lyme while on the set for an independent movie. Sigler’s first symptom on set in rural New Jersey was a tingling in her feet, which then escalated to paralysis from the waist down. It took doctors five days before they were able to figure out what was wrong. “It was such a life-altering experience,” Sigler told The New Jersey Star-Ledger. “I realized it could all be taken away in a moment. It’s hard to explain, when you sit there and can’t move anything…” Fortunately, after taking antibiotics, Sigler does not experience any more effects of Lyme.
George W. Bush
(Photo: Getty Images/NBC)
Many diagnosed with Lyme realize it after developing a rash in the shape of a bulls-eye — which is how former President George W. Bush realized he was infected. In 2007, the results of Bush’s annual physical exam showed that his Lyme had “complete resolution” and was “without recurrence,” The Washington Post reported.
(Photo: Getty Images/Steve Sands)
The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan is vocal about her experience with Lyme disease, even founding an organization called LymeAid 4 Kids, which pays for medical coverage for diagnosis and treatment for kids with Lyme.
“I didn’t know the speck on my shin was a tick. I saw no bull’s eye rash,” Tan wrote in an op-ed piece for The New York Times in 2013. What started as a tick bite tumbled into a four-year struggle with a range of symptoms, from joint pain to gagging at certain smells, to heart problems. She also explained in the op-ed that it took her years before she was able to find a doctor familiar enough with Lyme to know to prescribe her antibiotics. Now, she must keep taking the antibiotics, or else “the symptoms march back.”
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(Photo: Corbis/Dan Lamont)
The author of the best-selling novel The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood has been open about her experiences with Lyme, writing, “I have advanced neurological Lyme disease. … It affects the way I think, move, write, read, eat — every aspect of my life.” It took Wells seven years — during which she saw 12 doctors — before she was diagnosed with Lyme in 2004.
(Photo: Getty Images/Bravo)
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Foster spoke out about her struggle with Lyme on her blog last year, explaining that she has been absent from the Web due to her loss of ability to read, write, and even watch TV because of the condition. Foster was diagnosed with Lyme three years ago.
“I wasted the first year trying to get diagnosed and spent the next two trying to find a cure,” she wrote on her blog. “I have gone from the conventional long-term antibiotics to about every holistic protocol there is to offer. Unfortunately, I was only able to get to about a 60 percent recovery until I relapsed in early December and have not been able to find my way back.”
Foster keeps the world updated with her medical journey on Instagram, saying, “I am going to find my way out of this maze and find a cure for not only myself but for all my fellow Lymies #NoteToSelf Minutes turn into hours - hours turn into days-days turn into weeks-weeks turn into months and my months have turned into 3 years”.