Marist Alumni, Mary Beth Pfeiffer, came back to her roots last Wednesday, Oct 17, to speak about the growing issue of Lyme Disease and climate change.
Speaker Pfeiffer, a former investigating reporter at the Poughkeepsie Journal and author of her book Lyme, spoke largely about how although climate change has directly impacted the number of ticks and tick borne illnesses in the nation, there are still doctors that will still hesitate to diagnose a patient with Lyme.
“Science is telling us that ticks can now live where they once have not” said Pfeiffer, who believes that the recent issue with ticks can be attributed to a combination of climate change, and government funding refusing to be spent on lyme disease and ticks.
Pfeiffer compared the illness of Lyme Disease to the AIDS epidemic, and how, although Lyme patients are not “dying by the score,” there could be thousands of deaths that could have not been diagnosed as lyme disease, but are related to tick borne illnesses.
Stepping into the Nelly Goletti Theatre Wednesday night, at first glance, it seemed as if the theatre was filled with students simply attending because they were assigned to in class, but eventually, it was clear that over half the room had been personally impacted by Lyme Disease.
“I have had Lyme disease for years, and have spent thousands monthly on treatment, and I have had doctors that I still have doctors refusing to treat me for Lyme,” said a visitor, who preferred to remain anonymous.
Marist College, is often known for its beautiful open grass lawn, and nature setting. Although standing in the grass, looking at the Hudson River, is an popular pastime for Marist students, are they in danger for contracting a tick borne illness right on campus?
According to Pfeiffer, based on research she conducted, Dutchess county is known as one of the top tick-infested counties in the nation. Although this danger, caused my minuscule, eight-legged bugs, seems not to be as large as a threat as AIDS, Lyme Disease is still a large issue that lacks awareness and can often unknowingly impact students right here on campus.
“I’m here to paint the big picture of Lyme Disease,” said Pfeiffer. It is time to be aware of how ticks can impact the lives of many, even right here on campus.