‘Woman whose life has been ruined by mystery illness for 16 years is finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease’ | Press Association | 8 January 2016

BT.com carried this item from the Press Association on 8 January 2016.

A woman who has battled a string of debilitating illnesses for more than a decade has discovered it was all down to a tick bite – which she got 17 years ago.

Alice Reeve, 40, started to struggle with sore joints more than a decade ago and initially put it down to a kung fu injury.

But after her health deteriorated and she started to suffer from bouts of extreme tiredness, she was diagnosed with ME and fibromyalgia.

Determined Alice started a support group to help other sufferers, but only realised it might be Lyme Disease when she attended a lecture last year.

She realised her symptoms matched the rare condition – which is caused by bloodsucking ticks – and tests confirmed the disease.

Alice believes she was bitten while gardening in 1999 and is now waiting to see specialists to find out what damage the disease has caused.

However, she fears she might go blind due to the disease being untreated for so long.

Alice, from Cheltenham, said:

“I’ve had it for maybe 16 or 20 years, which is not good, and because I can’t tolerate many conventional drugs I don’t know what can be done about it.
 
“I was in my garden which backs onto a park when I was bitten on the ankle. My neighbour said I should probably wear long socks.
 
“Everything went downhill after the bites – I have just been so ill.”

Alice was fit and healthy before she was bitten on the ankle in 1999 while gardening, but didn’t think much of it.

She was later diagnosed with ME and fibromyalgia – two conditions she might not even have – and started a charity for sufferers.

She went to a conference in London last year where she heard about Lyme Disease – a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks whose bites cause a distinctive ‘bulls-eye’ rash.

It also causes inflammatory arthritis, problems with the nervous system, memory problems, heart problems and severe headaches.

After talking to doctors, a blood sample was sent to specialists in Germany who diagnosed her with the condition.

“What they were talking about [at the conference], some of the symptoms they were describing, it started making sense to me,” she said.

The bugs which spread the disease can be found in the UK, Europe and America.

It is treatable in its early stages but if left – like in Alice’s case – there can be serious complications.

Alice, who is now waiting to see a specialist about ongoing treatment, said: “There is a treatment of intravenous antibiotics which you can get in the USA or Germany, but it’s very controversial here.

“I really don’t know how this is going to work out for me.”

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