Tonight, FOX NY 5 will broadcast “Lyme and Reason: The Cause and Consequence of Lyme Disease” at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

The New York City-based station promises “an in-depth look at the cause and effect of Lyme disease, including the controversy over testing, the issues of misdiagnosis, and the personal struggles of medical professionals and patients contending with this life-changing illness.”

 

Seemingly all recent public health attention has been dedicated to Zika virus coverage, and news organizations have followed suit, dedicating huge amounts of airtime to Zika, alongside the expected “according to a new study” and frequent weight loss fad stories.

Most news segments that do address Lyme disease focus almost exclusively on how to identify the telltale bullseye rash (which only approximately 40 percent of Lyme patients ever see) and how to avoid and remove ticks. FOX NY 5 takes the public health threat seriously and is finally telling New York area viewers what they need to know about Lyme—the real story about how to identify it and what the consequences of untreated or undertreated Lyme can be. Other local news productions—as well as national organizations—should take a cue from this precedent-setting approach and give this epidemic the attention it deserves.

 

Ally Hilfiger

 

As far as I know, this sort of dedicated television treatment is unprecedented—and it’s another example of local news outlets doing a better and more thorough job of addressing Lyme than any national news organization has done. (Journalists interested in addressing Lyme should become familiar with its complexities and consider asking “the questions behind the questions” so as to avoid unethical misreporting or conveying dangerously false information in their stories.)

 

A spokesperson for FOX NY 5 told me that Lyme, which is endemic to New York, has affected many of its staff and their families, and so the network is committed to raising awareness about the reality and the complexities of Lyme, not only how to spot and remove a tick.

 

The special will include interviews with Ally Hilfiger and Marla Maples, who will discuss living with Lyme, as well as:

  • Renowned Oncologist Neil Spector, MD, who will share his personal story of how Lyme disease robbed him of his own heart
  • Singer and songwriter Dana Parish, who will discuss how Lyme disease derailed her life and career
  • The touching story of 12 year old Julia Bruzzese, who will explain how Lyme disease stole her ability to walk, and how a blessing by Pope Francis during his visit to NYC has provided hope for her and her family
  • Brian A. Fallon, MD, MPH – Director of the Center for Neuroinflammatory of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University, will talk about the cause of Lyme disease and what you should do if you’re bitten by a tick
  • Yale-Trained Lyme Disease Expert Steven Phillips, MD, will address the controversy surrounding Lyme disease, while Paul Mead, MD – Chief of Epidemiology and Surveillance Activity of The Bacterial Diseases Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the perspective from the country’s lead public health agency.
  •  Patricia De La Mora, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medical College, will talk about prevention and how to keep your children safe, while Lawrence Putter, MD – Medical Director Lenox Hill Veterinarians, will discuss how tickborne illnesses can devastate pets.

The special will also cover the controversies of Lyme in terms of testing, treatment, and coverage by insurance companies.

Dr. Neil Spector

 

Encore presentations of the special will air on the following days:

1.     Saturday, July 2nd @ 6:30pm

2.     Monday, July 4th @ 10:30pm

3.     Sunday, July 17th @ 5:30pm

 

If you are aware of any similar events, please contact us so that we can spread the word.

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