The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the number of people diagnosed each year with Lyme disease has climbed to nearly half a million, a 59 percent increase since 2010. Although it’s one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the country, research for Lyme disease is dramatically underfunded, with only $63 raised per patient as of 2018. Despite more annual cases than West Nile and HIV/AIDS combined, Lyme disease receives less than 2 percent of public funding for West Nile and 0.2% of funding for HIV/AIDS. Project Lyme, a tenacious nonprofit organization founded in 2016, aims to bridge these critical gaps in funding by raising awareness of the disease, investing in cutting-edge research and connecting patients with valuable health resources.
Transmitted to humans, pets and wildlife through bites from an infected blacklegged (deer) tick, Lyme disease may first present as flu-like illness, including fatigue, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, headaches and muscle aches. Lyme disease can often be cleared by the body with antibiotic treatment, but a delay in diagnosis may lead the disease to evolve into chronic or late-stage Lyme, which can wreak havoc on a multitude of organ systems, joints and tissues in the body. Debilitating symptoms are often clustered as the bacteria spreads, and can manifest in the nervous, endocrine, cardiac or gastrointestinal systems. The disease is known as the “Great Imitator” because chronic Lyme symptoms have been known to mimic many other health conditions, which can lead to instances of misdiagnosis and delays in comprehensive care.
A lack of support and understanding from the medical community has left many chronic Lyme patients feeling powerless, but Project Lyme has sprung into action to advocate for those living with the disease. Since its inception, the organization has raised over $4 million to support research efforts by Bay Area Lyme, created comprehensive online educational resources, and fostered a supportive network of Lyme patients through Generation Lyme, a community built to empower young people facing the disease. On April 11, 2022, Project Lyme invites guests to support their important work through the organization’s annual fundraising gala, an elegant evening of cocktails, cuisine and celebration held at NYC’s Chelsea Piers.