Alec Baldwin Opens Up About Battle With Lyme Disease

Actor Alec Baldwin is opening up about his battle with chronic Lyme disease, an issue that has plagued him for nearly two decades.

Lyme disease is on the rise this year thanks to an increase in tick-carrying mice. The disease is caused by a bacteria that ticks carry, and people usually get it from walking in wooded or grassy areas where ticks can easily latch onto a human. Baldwin has been dealing with the after-effects of Lyme disease for years now, and says it has been a true struggle. He told People he was first bitten 17 years ago, treated, and then suffered another bite several years later.

At the yearly LymeAid research benefit, hosted by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, Baldwin gave a speech about the insidious disease that he has battled for years.

“I got the classic Lyme disease (symptoms) for each successive summer, for five years, every August, like this black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed,” Baldwin said Sunday at the benefit.

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“The first time was the worst of all,” Baldwin told People magazine. “And I really thought this is it, I’m not going to live. I was alone, I wasn’t married at the time, I was divorced from my first wife. I was lying in bed saying, ‘I’m going to die of Lyme disease,’ in my bed and ‘I hope someone finds me and I’m not here for too long.’”

Baldwin has been tight-lipped about Lyme disease, though he did mention it briefly in a 2011 New York Times article. If treated with antibiotics soon after being infected, there are typically no lasting effects from the disease. However, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system if left untreated or discovered too late.

“I want my kids to grow up riding horses and bikes and enjoying themselves every day and not have to spend every day with us going over them with a magnifying glass to make sure they don’t have any ticks on their body or their dogs, but that is part of the lifestyle of where I live,” Baldwin said in his speech.

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The benefit raised more than $800,000, all of which will go to funding research for Lyme disease.