The Grapevine

Avril Lavigne Battles Lyme Disease, Follows Punk Diva Kathleen Hanna Also Taken Down By A Tick

Avril Lavigne, the 30-year-old Canadian singer, has been recuperating at her home in Ontario following a diagnosis of Lyme disease, People magazine reported. 

"I felt like I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk, and I couldn't move," she told People. "I thought I was dying." Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. Caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by infected ticks. Generally, a diagnosis is made based on symptoms and possible exposure to ticks, and in most cases the illness can be successfully treated with a course of antibiotics.

After months of speculation by social media denizens, Lavigne finally confirmed her absence on the music scene was due to illness. She explained to People she had felt ill for months though she did not understand why, and when friends celebrated her birthday in Las Vegas, she could not eat or join them at the pool due to the fatigue.

Lavigne follows punk diva Kathleen Hanna in her ordeal with this disease. Hanna, 46, a forerunner in the Riot Grrl movement, has been debilitated by Lyme disease. The former lead singer of Bikini Kill, Hanna had a relapse last year and canceled a tour of her new band in order to complete a three-month course of treatment.

Kathleen Hanna and Adam Horovitz Kathleen Hanna with her husband Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys Reuters

In the 1990s, Hanna was known for her feminism and her candor about sexual violence against women, yet she dropped out of sight in 2005 as a result of health problems. Her symptoms included fatigue, loss of her voice, loss of breath, and loss of hearing in one ear, yet no doctor could give her an accurate diagnosis. Alternately, she was told she had Lupus, multiple sclerosis, and panic attacks, and only later did she discover she suffered from late-stage Lyme disease.

Though with treatment her health improved, Hanna, whose new band is Julie Ruin, has experienced relapses. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients treated for Lyme disease with the recommended course of antibiotics will have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. While medical authorities say these lingering symptoms will disappear within six months, some patients believe their symptoms can recur indefinitely.

Lavigne, who believes she was bit by a tick last Spring, told People she feels 80 percent better after months of recuperation. This experience has renewed her gratitude for her many fans. She said, "The get-well messages and videos they sent touched me so deeply."

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