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Avril Lavigne brings light to Lyme disease concern in Canada

Katie Jones
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 8:00 PM - Recent revelations from Canadian pop singer Avril Lavigne regarding her struggle with Lyme disease has thrust the growing concern over the illness into the spotlight.

In an interview this week, Lavigne spoke out about the debilitating effects of Lyme disease, which she believes she contracted from an infected tick in Ontario, Canada.

Lavigne described the past year living with the disease and seeking treatment for the mysterious illness as "the worst of my life."

A native of Napanee, Ontario, Lavigne was visiting her hometown while touring in the spring of 2014. It was here she claims to have been bitten by a tick, contracting the disease.

Lyme disease is most commonly transmitted by black-legged ticks

Within days, she was experiencing headaches and fever, both signs of Lyme disease that are commonly misdiagnosed.

By October 2014, Lavigne became bedridden, crippled by her unknown illness and flu-ish symptoms.

After struggling with doctors unable to identify the source of her pain, Lavigne sought out a Lyme disease specialist.

 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Tick season in Canada. Here's how to stay safe

The 30-year-old singer has received treatment for her ailments, including antibiotics and bed rest, and claims to be feeling much better. Lavigne has spoken openly about her experience with Lyme disease in a number of recent interviews, as a means to raise awareness about prevention and future diagnoses.

The trials and frustrations expressed by Lavigne coincide with peak tick season across the country -- as well as growing criticism that too many cases of the disease go misdiagnosed or untreated in Canada.

Lyme disease is a widely under-reported disease, one that many people don't even know they may be infected with, according to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation. However, reported cases of the disease are on the rise in Canada. 

Black-legged ticks that commonly carry the disease are found across Canada, and in the northeastern United States. This week in Ontario, black-legged ticks from the Toronto Islands tested negative for Lyme disease.

People who have been bit by a tick are encouraged to send the insect to public health officials for testing.

However, lab tests often take weeks to produce results, negative or positive.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

  • Fatigue 
  • Fever or chills 
  • Headache 
  • Spasms, or weakness 
  • Numbness or tingling 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Skin rash

Additional symptoms can include 

  • Cognitive dysfunction (brain fog) or dizziness 
  • Nervous system disorders 
  • Arthritis and arthritic symptoms (muscle and joint pain) 
  • Abnormal heartbeat

Source: CBC | Public Health Agency of Canada | Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation | CBC

WATCH BELOW: 4 Myths: What you may not know about ticks

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