Bedridden at 24: Man's late Lyme Disease diagnosis highlights under-reporting issue


A 24-year-old man who played football in high school says he can hardly get out of bed - and Lyme Disease is to blame.

Former Hoover Buc Russell Brown says his life has been seriously lacking for more than four years.

ABC 33/40 spoke with him and his mother about the struggle.

A large number of Lyme Disease incidences go under-reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A doctor not only has to diagnose you, but the case must be reported to the state department of health for it to be recorded, then passed on to the CDC.

Brown simply wants an active life. But some days, he can't even make it to the couch.

Brown says, "There's days when I couldn't even shower, brush my teeth. I just didn't have the energy to get out bed. You just feel like you have been poisoned. There's just no one that can help you, you go to doctor after doctor..and they don't know what's wrong they can't provide any relief."

Brown began suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease in 2013. He says it snatched away his dream of being a walk-on football player at UAB after he graduated from Hoover High School. His mother Dianna Strickland has been watching it the whole time. Strickland says, "He went from playing football to laying in the bed in three months."

Browns is beside himself describing the agony of his new reality, "It's just heartbreaking because you are sick."

According to the CDC, Brown's pain is part of the tripling number of vector-borne diseases over the last 13 years. This statistic distresses his mother, because she can't change it. "For four years, I haven't been able to do that. It makes you feel like a failure as a mom."

Recent CDC data estimates Lyme Disease infects 300,000 Americans yearly, eight- to tenfold more than the number reported.

So how to do you prevent it? First: Always wear repellent. Second: Check for ticks daily. third: Shower soon after being outdoors. 4th: Act fast if you experience a fever or rash.

"I just wanna have a functional life again, and be able to get a job, keep a job, and just live a life."

A vaccine for Lyme Disease hasn't been available since 2002.

Right now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts are working on a shot that can be taken annually to help prevent it.

His family has made a gofundmepage to help raise money for treatments.

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