Phones 4U founder John Caudwell ‘devastated’ after family is diagnosed with Lyme disease

The self-made billionaire is forming a team to research the infection

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The Independent Online

The Phones 4U founder John Caudwell has spoken of his devastation after his ex-wife and children were all diagnosed with Lyme disease, a rare and debilitating bacterial infection.

Lyme disease spreads to humans by infected ticks and symptoms include tiredness, muscle pain and headaches, meaning it can be mistaken for more common illnesses. It affects between 2,000 and 3,000 people each year. 

Caudwell, 62, disclosed his son Rufus had been diagnosed with Lyme disease earlier this month after suffering panic attacks, bouts of agoraphobia and travel sickness from the age of 10, which doctors initially diagnosed as mental health issues.

“We’ve got a huge team of very expert people working on it because it is very complex, but I’m determined to get him better, to get him some sort of life,” he told The Telegraph earlier this month. “It is a massive sadness in my life.”

On Monday, the self-made billionaire shared an Instagram post announcing he has also tested positive for Lyme disease, along with his ex-wife and his two daughters. 

A photo posted by @johncaudwell on

Caudwell says he is now looking to recruit a small team of people to “transform" Lyme disease in the UK. "Lyme is devastating families and individuals with the most sinister consequences and yet goes almost unrecognised," he said.

"No diagnosis. No treatment. No statistics. How much are Lyme induced illnesses costing the NHS and how much suffering?"

He is asking anyone interested in helping him research the disease to contact him with details of how they believe they can help.

The singer Avril Lavigne has spoken extensively about her own diagnosis and the difficulty she faced in being accurately diagnosed by doctors who believed she was depressed or suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

“I was seeing every specialist and literally the top doctors, and … they would pull up their computer and be like, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome," she said in June. "Or, ‘Why don’t you try to get out of bed, Avril, and just go play the piano?’

“This is what they do to a lot of people who have Lyme disease. They don’t have an answer for them so they tell them, ‘You’re crazy’.”