Lyme borreliosis, what is the disease that has affected Justin Bieber and other stars

Justin Bieber had to postpone three concerts because, as he wrote in an Instagram story, his illness has gotten worse. It was the artist himself, nearly two and a half years ago, to have “Lyme disease as well as serious chronic mononucleosis”. Before Bieber, Lyme disease plagued other stars as well, from our home TV host Victoria Cabello to model Bella Hadid to another singer, Avril Lavigne. They too, like the Canadian pop star, have publicly told about the ordeal experienced with Lyme disease.

Also known as Lyme borreliosis, a name that is that of the American city where the first case was described in 1975, this disease is transmitted by the bite of ticks infected with a specific group of bacteria (the pathogen is Borrelia). And, as reported by EpiCentro, epidemiology portal edited by the Higher Institute of Health (Iss), it is today the most widespread and significant vector-transmitted pathology with diffusion in temperate geographical areas. Second, in number of cases, only to malaria among the diseases that require an arthropod vector for spread.

The infection affects the skin, joints, nervous system and internal organs. It can manifest itself with severe, persistent symptoms and, if left untreated, becomes chronic. The main problem is that diagnosing it is very complex. First of all, because the first symptoms of the disease are intermittent and changing. And laboratory tests are not always able to definitively confirm or rule out the disease.

Having contracted the infection, however, is not the same as developing immunity, so you can run into the disease several times. Disease that initially manifests itself as a red spot that slowly expands. Within a few weeks (in some cases months), neurological disorders can develop which can involve joint and muscle pains to meningitis, polyneuritis, cutaneous lymphocytoma, myocarditis. Symptoms are fluctuating and can last for months. In the last phase of the disease, even after years of infection, chronic arthritis and alterations of the central and peripheral nervous system, skin and cardiovascular system can develop.

In Europe there are several agents of infection: the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi sensu striato, which is the only one present in North America (where vaccines targeting the single pathogen are therefore available), Borrelia afzelii and Borrelia garinii present in Europe. , Asia and Africa.

As for Italy, epidemiological data are limited and refer to about a thousand cases of Lyme borreliosis that would have occurred in the period 1992-1998. The regions most affected by the disease are Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Trentino Alto Adige (Autonomous Province of Trento), while in the central-southern regions and on the islands the reports are sporadic. More recent is the estimate of the Italian study group on Lyme disease which speaks of about 500 new cases every year in our country.

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