Justin Bieber claims he has become the latest Canadian celebrity to contract Lyme disease.
The Biebs joins Avril Lavigne and Shania Twain in the club of uber-famous Canadian singers who are connected to it. Lyme disease is complex and can be difficult-to-diagnose, and it caused by different strains of Borrelia bacteria, and spread by ticks. It causes a wide array of symptoms that range from severe headaches to chronic fatigue to joint stiffness. People typically get Lyme disease when venturing into the great outdoors.
In an Instagram post, Bieber said that he will go into detail on the illness in a YouTube “docu-series.”
“While a lot of people kept saying Justin Bieber looks like shit, on meth etc. they failed to realize I've been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease,” the singer wrote. "It's been a rough couple years but [I'm] getting the right treatment that will help treat this so far incurable disease and I will be back and better than ever.”
Now, there are a few things to quibble about in Bieber’s statement, Lyme disease is treatable if caught. He also claimed he had “chronic mono”—which could be a reference to a very rare chronic active EBV infection diagnosis.
Further to that, there are two things Lyme disease could be referring to. The first, which Twain suffered from, is a legitimate diagnosable infectious disease that comes from a tick. The second is “chronic lyme disease,” which exists in the alternative medicine world and is used to blame a wide array of symptoms. It’s unknown which one the Biebs is referring to.
To use a clinical term, Lyme disease fucking sucks. It’s debilitating and immensely difficult to fight. The darn disease stole Shania’s voice for several years.
Now, as they say: two times is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. So, with that in mind, we here at VICE Canada decided to try and figure out what the heck is going on with our beloved Canuck singers. Here are a few possible explanations for why our famous folks are getting the ol’ Lyme.
If you’re looking way, way too deep into this (as I am) you might realize that these stars are from small(ish) Ontario towns: Bieber from Stratford, Twain from Timmins, and Lavigne from Napanee. Now, the bright lights of Toronto and L.A. may be grating to these folks from smaller communities and to escape the grind they venture to greener pastures.
And, folks, you know what is on greener pastures? That’s right, fucking deer and other animals that carry ticks who attack our songbirds as they prance through the woods.
A Celine Dion-led cult of famous Canadians
The most obvious explanation is that once you hit the rarified air occupied by the Shanias and Avrils of the world you get beckoned to a large home in Montreal. Once here “My Heart Will Go On” starts pounding through the speakers and an Eyes Wide Shut-esque ritual begins. The shenanigans ends with Celine Dion dressed in a willowing robe, dramatically walking down a long spiral staircase towards an elevated stone slab our celebrities are waiting on. From here Celine welcomes them into the world of uber-famous Canadian singers by transferring a tick from her slender finger onto their prone, nude torso.
The final explanation comes from the science community and posits that, simply, there has been a dramatic rise in Lyme disease over the past decade. It has more than doubled from 2004 to 2016 in North America and has been consistently increasing year after year and our famous friends were just caught in the crossfire.
Furthermore, in Canada specifically, where our beloved singers obviously still spend time, the rates of Lyme disease has exploded—it jumped from 144 cases in 2009 to 2,025 cases in 2017. The majority of these cases come from the eastern provinces which happen to be where Bieber, Twain, and Lavigne all hail from.
As many scientists have pointed out, the increase in Lyme disease comes back to climate change. Climate change reshapes ecosystems and this has forced animals to change their patterns, which leads to humans interacting with animals carrying the ticks more often. A study published in 2018 in the Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology predicted climate change will cause Lyme disease to rise by more than 20 percent in the U.S. by 2050.
Maybe Bieber, Twain, and Lavigne were just the unlucky first few celebrities to catch the disease during its recent rise and there will be more as climate change causes the disease to become more prevalent. Maybe more and more celebs will get Lyme disease as the years roll on by.
We must protect Carly Rae Jepsen at all costs.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.