Loudoun County continues fight against Lyme disease - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Loudoun County continues fight against Lyme disease

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It's a ranking Loudoun County could do without, worst place in the state of Virginia for Lyme disease.

But a year ago, the Board of Supervisors declared war on Lyme to try and turn things around.

And already there are signs of improvement.

On one street in Leesburg, five families have at least one parent or one child with Lyme disease.

Patti Benalayat and her oldest son both have it. She lost her job as an elementary school teacher a year ago, after losing her voice during a serious bout with Lyme, and being too weak to get through the day.

"There was nothing more frustrating than to not be able to do your job and take care of your family like you always have," Benalayat says.

Today, Benalayat is sending out announcements for her son's high school graduation, a task she could not have done a year ago.Intense physical therapy, and medication has gotten her on the road to recovery.

"I feel good and I'm cautiously optimistic," Benalayat says.

And she's been back in the classroom for a month and a half.

"I'm not the same person I was and never will be, but I'm okay with that. I like who I am," Benalayat says.

After seeing, her neighbor struggle with Lyme disease, Jodie Allen doesn't take any chances with her family now.

Everyone gets a good going over after spending any time outdoors.

"I do check myself, and I spray the kids. We even check the dog," Allen says. "We're afraid that if a tick falls off him, it could get on one of the kids, so we don't go a day without checking the dog."

Benalayat says awareness of Lyme Disease across the County has increased tenfold, since Loudoun County declared 2012 Lyme Disease awareness year. They initiated a ten point plan to curb the spread of Lyme, including feeders to bait deer with harmless things to kill ticks, and spraying local parks and ballfields too.

There's also a major education component to tell county residents the risks of ticks.

"So many people are being diagnosed now because the awareness is there," Benalayat says.

Awareness she hopes will spare other families the ordeal hers has endured as she and her oldest son battle Lyme disease.

"Our life has changed, but I'm now feeling blessed that I can talk again and walk again. I am thankful every day for that," Benalayat says.

The Loudoun County website has excellent information on detecting and treating Lyme.

www.loudoun.gov (look for Targeting Lyme Link)

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