A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

‘Journey Thru Lyme Disease’ hike is effort
to create awareness about tick-borne illness


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Logan McCulloch is about to complete a six-month hike along the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness about Lyme Disease. (Photo from Kentuckiana Lyme Disease Support Group)


 

Logan McCulloch of Louisville was a healthy, athletic 52-year-old with a demanding job as the chief development officer for the Kentuckiana Region of American Red Cross. As an outdoor enthusiast, he spent his free time hiking, biking and enjoying nature. He was a healthy outdoorsman – that is, until a single tick bite changed his life forever. McCulloch was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
 

McCulloch decided to take his story on the road, embarking on a six-month trek to raise awareness. He is currently on what he refers to as his “Journey Thru Lyme Disease,” a six-month excursion of 2,180 miles along the Appalachian Trail. His mission is to spread awareness and increase publicity for Lyme disease, which he says is an under-reported problem in this region.
 

During his journey, he is speaking with fellow hikers and residents about the disease, the need for increased national knowledge and safety tips, and placing Lyme disease pamphlets in every shelter that he passes. He is also attending support group gatherings en route and updating his Online Trail Journal and YouTube channel, allowing the public to stay informed during his adventure. Through a previous hike, McCulloch adopted the name “Unitic” and is the name that he is continuing to travel under.
 

Lyme disease is “ the fastest growing vector-borne epidemic in the United States,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. Recently, the CDC reported that about 300,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with the disease, representing a number 10 times higher than the number of cases reported annually.
 

If caught early, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, as it was in McCulloch’s case, the infection can spread to various areas of the body, including the nervous system and heart.
 

McCulloch’s “journey” with Lyme disease actually begain in October 2011, when he visited his physician with symptoms including continual brain fog, widespread arthritis, persistent fevers, and fatigue. McCulloch had previously found 20 tick bites on his body following a backpacking trip. Though he thought he removed all of the ticks within 12 hours, lessening his chance of infection, Lyme disease was still a possibility. However, his physician’s response was to send him to get an MRI to test for multiple Sclerosis. His MRI came back negative. It wasn’t until five months later that he was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
 

Disillusioned with his misdiagnosis, he became an advocate for public awareness through the Kentuckiana Lyme Disease Support Group. While enduring months of intensive treatment, McCulloch’s condition improved and day-to-day activities became possible, though they remain straining. Hiking became his primary outlet for activism.
 

McCulloch is currently in Maine, the most difficult state of his excursion, and will continue by traveling along the New Hampshire border, 100 miles across the White Mountains. He will then travel along the New Hampshire border, 100 miles across the White Mountains, targeting Friday, Aug. 23, for reaching his destination.
 

To read more about McCulloch’s Journey Thru Lyme Disease, click here.
 

To find out more about Lyme disease, see the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s “Ticks and Disease: Answers to Often-Asked Questions” by extension entomologist Michael F. Potter.
 

Information for this story from “Journey Thru Lyme Disease”/Logan McCulloch


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