Lyme Lives Here

Doctors and lawmakers alike take a stand against this misunderstood disease permeating Southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Lyme disease has permeated Southeastern Pennsylvania—especially Chester County, with its exploding deer population. As the weather warms, ticks feeding on the blood of furrier hosts find their way to humans. As medical experts and politicians continue to debate the nuances of this enigmatic illness, local families pay the price.

Doug Fearn, president of the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)The Sheas are a Lyme disease family through and through. They even had bright-green “Lyme Lives Here” flags made, and planned on flying them from the mailboxes of affected families in their rural Coatesville neighborhood—that is, until undiagnosed residents and local real estate agents got wind of it.

Chester County has a notoriously high incidence of Lyme disease. Ray Shea is from West Bradford Township; his wife, Jayne, grew up in Glenmoore, where her mother, another Lyme victim, still lives. Their earliest exposure to deer ticks came in their backyards. Ray once worked at an orchard. Jayne lived next to an abandoned one, played there and always returned home covered in ticks.

Ray is a gastrointestinal Lyme patient; Jayne’s joints are infringed. She sits in a whirlpool for an hour each morning before caring for their 21-year-old son, Jared. Lyme has permanently incapacitated Jared, who is confined to a wheelchair and needs a device to talk.

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