Former Loop Rock Girl Erica Valker fights chronic Lyme Disease

Former Loop Rock Girl Erica Valker fights chronic Lyme Disease

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In 2005, a Chicago woman in her early 20's became the stunningly beautiful face of The Loop FM 98 radio station, but many listeners had no idea the battle she had been fighting for the last few years.

Erica Valker is in a fight for her life against chronic late stage Lyme Disease--a bacterial infection, which is transmitted by an infected deer tick.

In a Skype interview from their Los Angeles home, Erica and Paul Valker describe the former Loop Rock Girl's condition.

"It's been a nightmarish," said Erica Valker, the 2005 Loop Rock Girl.

7 years ago, Valker reined as the Loop Rock Girl after winning a contest to find the new face of The Loop.

Her health complications began 3 years later.

"I started to crash," she said.

"She got hit pretty hard with neurological systems and gastro systems," her husband, Paul Valker recalled. "And then it just escalated and got worse and worse."

Once word spread on The Loop's website about Valker's condition, Promotions Director Jeannine Moose says the support from Loyal Loopers was overwhelming.

"She was fun and she was peppy," Moose says. "She just fit in with The Loop crowd so perfectly."

Now, 29 years old, Valker says her recovery is uncertain, calling it a "50/50" chance.

The couple set up a FundRazr website to raise money for medical expenses since some health insurance companies won't pay for chronic Lyme Disease treatments.

Ten days into Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the state's Department of Health posted a notice this morning on its website saying, "While antibiotics can treat illness due to tick bites, it's best to avoid tick bites all altogether by taking some simple precautions" said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck.

Recommendations include:

  • Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you
  • Use repellant that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin (always follow product instructions)
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants (especially their cuffs), socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin
  •  Tuck long pants into socks and boots
  •  Wearing light-colored pants makes ticks easier to see

The Valkers say most people are misinformed or misdiagnosed. They call the disease the great imitator because it imitates so many other illnesses and by the time it strikes your central nervous system, it may be too late.

"We wanted to do what we can to raise awareness and make sure other people get checked for Lyme Disease before like Erica they see 25-30 doctors that misdiagnose her and they get sicker and sicker," said Paul Valker.

"And then it becomes a fight for your life," said Erica Valker.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease include severe headaches, fatigue, light sensitivity and a bulls-eye rash pattern. The State Department of Public Health says last year there were 204 cases of Lyme Disease.

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