Symposium set to raise awareness, knowledge of Lyme disease

File photo. The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 11, 2018 Local Edition

By Stacey Carmany
The Budget

The NE Ohio Lyme Foundation is hosting a multidisciplinary symposium dedicated to raising awareness, sharing knowledge and lending support to individuals and families affected by the tick-borne disease.

The second annual Lyme Disease Symposium is set for Saturday, May 3, from 9a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Pymatuning Valley Veterans Memorial Performing Arts Center (VMPAC) in Andover, Ohio, with a variety of speakers scheduled to appear.

“This year we have an incredible lineup,” said Connie Moschell, who founded the NE Ohio Lyme Foundation with her husband, Marlin, after the couple’s two daughters were diagnosed with the disease. “There are some very impressive speakers coming just to help bring knowledge and awareness that this is not going away.”

Among the speakers will be Dr. Bea Szantyr, a Lyme disease specialist from Lincoln, Maine, and a member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), who will share her knowledge and experiences from more than 20 years of researching and treating the disease.

Another doctor, Dr. Emma McGowan of Medical Wellness Associates near Pittsburgh, will speak on the role of integrative medicine, which incorporates traditional medical treatments with alternative or complementary therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, prolotherapy, homeopathy, botanical medicine.

“It’s the whole body, so you’re not only treating the bacteria with antibiotics but then you come alongside and bring your body back to balance, help it heal,” Moschell explained. “It really helps you to restore your health once you’ve been going through a disease for so long.”

Another expert, Doug Priest of IGENEX Lab Inc., will be traveling in from California to share information about proper testing for tick-borne diseases.

Because the disease can also affect family members of the four-legged variety, the foundation is also excited to bring back veterinarian Dr. Charles Curie, who also presented during last year’s symposium.

“The reason I invited him back is because so many people were impressed with his presentation,” Moschell shared. “People learn from him things like how to treat their yards, how to prevent, what ticks look like, just the general information that he gives. It’s not just about animals.”

In addition, the symposium will also feature speakers who have a personal connection with the disease including Sue Faber, a registered nurse from Ontario, Canada, who will give a presentation on the how Lyme disease can be transmitted transplacentally from mother to unborn child.

Moschell explained that Faber first learned about this method of transmission whenever her daughters were diagnosed and began treatment with Dr. Charles Jones of New Haven, Connecticut, a pediatric Lyme disease specialist who also treated Moschell’s daughters. “That’s how she got on to learning about this when her children were diagnosed with Lyme disease by Dr. Jones, and she’s like, ‘How did they get it?’ and he’s like ‘Well, probably you,’” Moschell shared. “They started like discussing and comparing notes, and, sure enough, she has it, and they’ve been sick from birth.”

Also slated to appear is Mary Kate Robertson of the A&E television series Duck Dynasty, who will speak about how her family has been touched by the disease.

“Before she married John Luke [Robertson], her family suffered. Every one of them had Lyme disease,” Moschell explained. “Her story is about how it affects the dynamics of your entire family. Everyone is touched.”

Moschell shared that she contacted Robertson after coming across one of her blog posts last summer, never thinking that she would actually agree to appear at the symposium. “I reached out to her never thinking she would ever get back to me because she’s famous,” she said.

“She’s very excited to come and share that story of how it affects a family and how you’re never alone. I think it’s going to be a real enjoyable time, and people are going to connect with her.”

Cases of Lyme disease have been steadily increasing in Ohio over the past five years. The Ohio Department of Health recorded 267 new cases of the disease last year, a 54 percent increase from the previous year.

Locally, ODH recorded eight new cases of Lyme disease in Tuscarawas County in 2017 and six new cases in Holmes County. During the previous year, there was one case of the disease recorded in Tuscarawas County and two in Holmes. Holmes County Health Commissioner Michael Derr cautioned, however, that these numbers may not present an accurate picture on the true incidence of the disease because some cases may remain undiagnosed.

Moschell noted that the purpose of the symposium is not only to provide information and raise awareness of the disease but also to lend support to those affected. “It’s to bring support for those who are suffering because you feel like you’re so alone when you are trying to find treatment or you have symptoms that are so bizarre that your doctor tells you it’s all in your head,” she said.

In addition to the speakers, there will also be booths set up during the event offering products and information. Confirmed vendors include Plexus, Juice Plus and IGENEX.

Tickets for the symposium may be purchased in advance or at the door for $20. Advanced tickets can be purchased online at neohiolymefoundation.eventbrite.com and include a catered lunch from Panera Bread. The deadline to purchase tickets online is April 30.

The Pymatuning Valley Veterans Memorial Performing Arts Center is located at 5571 US-6 in Andover.

For additional information, the NE Ohio Lyme Foundation can be reached by calling 440- 293-5022 or by sending an email to ldcspp00@hotmail.com.