Country music star Shania Twain suffered a singer’s worst nightmare — losing her voice — and the cause of the problem was eventually traced to an unlikely source: a tick bite.
The singer’s struggle with Lyme disease highlights the side effects of the disease and how they can manifest in unusual ways.
Those effects also can sometimes emerge years later, even among people who have been treated and presumed to be “cured” of the tick-borne bacterial infection.
In an interview with The Independent, Twain recalled contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite in Virginia in 2003.
“I saw a tick fall off me,” she said. “I was on tour, so I almost fell off the stage every night. I was very, very dizzy and didn’t know what was going on. It’s just one of those things you don’t suspect.”
Twain was diagnosed with Lyme disease at the time. She was treated, but her troubles were apparently just beginning.
Twain is among the 10 to 20 percent of people that experts say can develop long-term health problems despite being treated with antibiotics to kill off the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes the illness.
“You have a very short window to catch it and then treat it and then even when you treat it, you could still very well be left with effects, which is what happened to me,” Twain said.
Twain lost her voice for several years and ultimately took a 15-year break from performing. She eventually was diagnosed with dysphonia, a kind of vocal cord muscle paralysis, suspected of being related to her Lyme infection.
“When I realized that I could barely sing at all anymore, I was like, ‘I’m humiliating myself. I can’t get out there and do this. I have to stop until I figure it out.’ I thought that it was just fatigue or burnout,” she told People magazine in an interview. “But no — Lyme disease commonly affects the nerves.”