Anwar Hadid, Yolanda Foster and Bella Hadid, who all have Lyme disease, are pictured here with Gigi Hadid (far left) at the Global Lyme Alliance ‘Uniting for a Lyme-Free World’ Inaugural Gala on October 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Global Lyme Alliance)
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star and Lyme disease sufferer Yolanda Foster made a surprising announcement this October: Two of her children have also battled the disease. Now, she’s shared a photo of the Low Dose Immunotherapy medication she, Bella Hadid, 19, and Anwar Hadid, 16, are taking to strengthen their immune systems.
The family’s lyme disease medication. (Photo: Instagram.com/yolandahfoster)
“When my two youngest children, Bella and Anwar, were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in early 2012, watching my babies struggle in silence in order to support me in my journey, struck the deepest core of hopelessness inside of me,” Foster said in a speech at the Global Lyme Alliance inaugural gala, per People.
Foster was also diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 and has publicly struggled with the tick-borne illness. The 51-year-old wrote in a blog post in January that she had lost the ability to read, write, or watch TV, because she couldn’t process information.
Foster, who received the “Power of One” award from the Global Lyme Alliance, dedicated it to her children. “This award is for Anwar and Bella. This is my token and my promise to you that I will not allow you to live a life of pain and suffering. I will walk to the end of the earth to find a cure so that you can live a healthy life that you deserve,” she said. “No child should suffer the way that you do.”
Related: The Truth About Chronic Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Approximately 30,000 new cases of the disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year.
But how can several people in the same family develop a disease that isn’t contagious?
While unusual, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Health that it’s happened before.
However, it doesn’t seem to be due to genetics. “There is no information in scientific medical literature to think there is a familial predisposition to Lyme disease,” he says.
Schaffner says Lyme disease is more likely to strike a group of people (families included) when they go out in environments where there are a lot of ticks.
Those environments include the usual suspects such as woods and tall grasses, but Schaffner says ticks can also thrive in bushes and leafy areas around your house. If a family or group spends time gardening together, it’s possible that several members could be bitten by ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi.
Lyme disease cases typically surface in the northeast U.S., but the CDC reports that there is another cluster around Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as some spots in Oregon and California.
While less common, Schaffner also says one tick can actually bite multiple people. However, that’s more likely to happen with couples that share the same bed.
Even though several people in a group can contract Lyme disease, doctors don’t recommend being checked for the disease if a member of your family contracts it and you show no symptoms.
Instead, Schaffner says the focus should be on preventing tick bites from happening in the first place — especially since it’s possible that a member of your family could have contracted Lyme disease from a tick living around your home.
He recommends wearing tick repellent when you’re in an environment where ticks might live, as well as wearing long sleeves and pants. Once you get home, check yourself and family members for ticks, paying careful attention to belt lines, groin areas, arm pits, and hairlines.
Schaffner admits that it’s easy to forget these steps, but stresses that, with Lyme disease, “prevention is key.”
Read This Next: Lyme Disease Symptoms: What to Look Out For