On Thursday night, Yolanda Foster—Gigi and Bella Hadid‘s mom—gave a speech at the Global Lyme Alliance inaugural gala while accepting an award. It’s public knowledge that the 51 year old has been suffering from Lyme disease since early 2012, but she also revealed that two of her three children—Anwar, 16, and Bella, 18—also have been diagnosed.
“When my two youngest children, Bella and Anwar, were diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in early 2012, watching my babies struggle in silence in order to support me in my journey struck the deepest core of hopelessness inside of me,” the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star said.
It’s unfortunate news for the Hadids, and it had us (and, we bet, many of you) wondering how, exactly, nearly an entire family can get struck by the same illness that stems from a tick bite.
To shed light on the matter, we called Daniel Cameron, MD, MPH, a nationally recognized expert on Lyme disease who attended Thursday’s gala.
“It’s pretty common for people in the same family to share the same yard, same exposure, same travels, and same animals [where the ticks survive], so many times you’ll get clusters of the disease within the family itself,” he explained.
He added that often numerous people in the same family can be struggling with symptoms of Lyme disease simultaneously, but it’s not until one person is diagnosed that the rest seek treatment. “Sometimes it takes a while for the family to recognize Lyme. Then when one person gets diagnosed, there’s an awareness across the family. Once someone gets sick, they look over everyone else and realize, ‘Oh gosh, I just hadn’t recognized it,'” he said.
Dr. Cameron said that Bella and Anwar—or anyone with Lyme disease—could get better in just 21 days but that often the symptoms of fatigue, pain, poor concentration, numbness in hands and feet, moodiness, and light-headedness persist much longer. “What drives the illness is the immune system fighting the infection,” he explained, noting that the disease is treated with antibiotics.