Tick-Borne Disease Alliance Advances Lyme Disease Research and Awareness Through Nationwide Public Advocacy Campaign

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24-Year-Old John Donnally Completes Cross-Country Cycling Tour From San Francisco to New York City to Raise Funding For the Cause

Bite Back America

Bite Back, America

The impact of Lyme disease on physical health status is at least equal to the disability of patients with congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis and greater than those observed in type 2 diabetes.

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), one of the country’s most authoritative voices on Lyme disease, today announced that its nationwide “Bite Back for a Cure" campaign raised $70,000 to help advance research of an insect-borne disease that’s quickly spreading across the United States. 24-year-old John Donnally, a Morristown, N.J. native, championed the effort through a cross-country cycling tour that started on Sept. 29 at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Donnally traversed more than 3,500 miles during the two-month campaign, which ended on Dec. 1 when he crossed the George Washington Bridge into New York City.

Donnally - who has fought Lyme disease since the age of nine - spoke with more than 1,000 fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists as he cycled through more than 200 cities and towns, visiting some of the states hardest hit by the tick-borne illness, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The “Bite Back for a Cure” campaign began shortly after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that Lyme disease is a “tremendous” health problem, affecting 300,000 people every year, 10 times more than previously reported.

“The breadth of this nationwide epidemic became clear to me as I met people in Kansas, Ohio and Missouri who suffer from Lyme disease in states that report only a handful of cases every year,” said Donnally. “Blacklegged ticks, which transmit Lyme disease, are now being discovered in the Midwest and that’s why people need to be extra vigilant when they’re spending time outdoors.”

The $70,000 raised from the “Bite Back for a Cure” campaign will be invested into research that helps improve Lyme disease diagnosis and testing. If a tick bite is left untreated, the infection can move quickly to the brain and can result in a high fever (flu-like symptoms), severe joint pain, and neurological problems that are often misdiagnosed. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the impact of Lyme disease on physical health status was at least equal to the disability of patients with congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis and greater than those observed in type 2 diabetes.

“Too many people are suffering from an illness that can be treated easily if caught early by physicians,” said David Roth, co-chairman of the TBDA and managing director at Blackstone. “It’s critical that we have an accurate diagnostic tool and a well-educated medical community, and given the recent news from the CDC, our efforts are important now more than ever.”

Donnally - who was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2003 and again in 2011 - crossed 14 states during the two-month cycling tour. The TBDA raised funds through a social media campaign on its website at http://www.TBDAlliance.org; Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TBDAlliance; and Twitter at @TBDAlliance.

About the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance
The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is dedicated to raising awareness, promoting advocacy and supporting initiatives to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. As part of its efforts, TBDA is embarking on a quest to develop a reliable diagnostic tool as a first step toward eradicating the diseases. Working with others in the tick-borne disease community nationwide, TBDA seeks to raise public awareness through education and create a unified voice for advocacy regarding the current epidemic in order to make a real difference. More information about TBDA, Lyme and tick-borne diseases, and prevention and protection can be found at http://www.TBDAlliance.org.

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