Families with firsthand experience fighting Lyme disease say prevention and protecting yourself from tick bites can save you from the suffering they've been forced to endure.
- With warm weather finally here and people spending more time outside, health officials are warning about the risk of ticks. And when you say ticks, that means the threat of Lyme disease. New Jersey reporter Toni Yates with more.
- And you don't always feel sick immediately, so you can have no idea.
TONI YATES: These mothers share their stories of months-long and years-long battles against Lyme disease in their families.
- And we were fighting just to figure out what was wrong with her. And then even when we knew what was wrong with her--
- They'll be like, oh, it's just Lyme. But it's not just Lyme. It's so much more than that. It's debilitating. It's terrible.
TONI YATES: The disease cost Gloria Kim's son nearly everything he loved to do.
GLORIA KIM: My unstoppable, wondrous Brandon, who used to play soccer on two teams, won a riding scholarship at eight, played four instruments with joy-- I watched Brandon have temporary blindness, tunnel vision, vertigo, brain fog, body tremors.
TONI YATES: They and others joined Congressman Josh Gottheimer on the trails at this West Milford Environmental Center to strongly encourage families to take the threat of tick-borne illnesses and prevention seriously.
JOSH GOTTHEIMER: You don't realize just how bad it is, right, and how devastating it can be.
TONI YATES: Gottheimer, along with Congressman Chris Smith, have introduced legislation to pour tons of federal resources into helping families facing Lyme disease crises.
JOSH GOTTHEIMER: It's my hope that with New Jersey's leadership and innovation in the medical, pharmaceutical, and life science industries, we can play a key role in developing these new treatments and maybe even a cure.
- And so many people don't know that they--
- --have Lyme and--
- --that they're ill with other things, so that's a big factor.
- But I-- So--
TONI YATES: These families have had to become activists, experts on this issue. And they say prevention, protecting yourself from tick bites, can save you from the suffering they've been forced to know all too well.
- It only takes one bite to get you sick.
TONI YATES: These bills mean more money, more attention, more research, more treatment options for tick-borne illnesses. The Congressman hopes to have them passed by the fall.