Last week the 2016 USPGA Champion, Jimmy Walker, revealed he had Lyme Disease. But what is the disease and what physical effects does it put on a golfer's body? By Harvey Jones
Walker revealed last week that he had been suffering from the effects of Lyme Disease, without knowing what it was, since November last year.
The six-time PGA Tour winner told media at The Masters that he was suffering from “mononucleosis” and “felt sluggish” at random moments every day.
The Effects of Lyme Disease
With these symptoms in mind, Golf Monthly spoke to Lyme Disease UK who provided a greater insight into the symptoms and effects of the condition.
“It is vital to educate people about the disease, because it is often misdiagnosed” said Ann Gregson, a volunteer for Lyme Disease UK.
“Early symptoms can include a bull’s-eye rash, fever, headaches and fatigue.
“If the disease is left untreated it can result in joint or heart problems, chronic pain, neurological/cognitive problems to name a few and because of this, treatment is more likely to be effective if Lyme disease is diagnosed early.”
Although Jimmy Walker was able to play through the illness on Tour for over five months before receiving a full diagnosis, the effects of Lyme Disease on golfers and other sportspeople is significant.
Keen golfer and member of Lyme Disease UK, Jean Renwick-Forster, explained how she has been living with the disease and the effects it’s had on her.
“I have been ill 11 years,” she said.
“I got bitten in Spain in 2006. I had bites with blackish circles around them, not a typical rash. Just looked infected. I woke up one morning with the bites on my arms and legs, some of which are still there now.
“When I asked the Doctor about the bites they were dismissed, I gradually started to become ill over the next years.
“Me and my husband both played golf although I played more regularly. About twice a week.
“I am not fully recovered and still have problems with high adrenal fatigue, making it almost impossible to walk a full round with ought feeling dizzy and unwell.”
For more information on Lyme Disease and what you can do to help support Lyme Disease UK, visit www.lymediseaseuk.com
What is being done to raise the awareness of Lyme Disease?
Public Health England estimates that there are around 2,000 – 3,000 new cases per year in the UK alone.
As a result, Lyme Disease UK have launched a ‘Wake Up to Lyme’ campaign to mark the start of World Lyme Day on the 1st May.
The aim is to raise awareness of how it can be prevented by protecting themselves from tick bites, correct tick removal techniques and how to recognise the early symptoms of Lyme disease.
The campaign also aims to stress the importance of early treatment for anyone who experiences the characteristic bull’s-eye rash or who becomes unwell following a tick bite.