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Bravo TV 'Miami Social' survivor fights Lyme disease

Ariel Stein gets hit with same disease Real Housewife battles

Bravo TV Miami Social's Ariel Stein, left, suffers from same disease as Real Housewife Yolanda Foster, right.
Bravo TV Miami Social's Ariel Stein, left, suffers from same disease as Real Housewife Yolanda Foster, right. (COURTESY OF BRAVO TV.)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Whether Ariel Raphael Stein was at a nightclub, a fashion show or a private party, his smile and good looks always attracted beautiful people and adventure. Last year, he was in Mexico, Chile, England and France.

As his health started to mysteriously deteriorate, the 32-year-old's active and social lifestyle came to an abrupt halt. He was later diagnosed with Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.

After sharing his experience on social media, other social media users said they were also dealing with the disease. Some of the signs of solidarity came from users who had never met the South Beach reality TV star, who invented the wearable towel.

"I have dealt with this horrible, spineless disease for over 21 years of my life ... I believe knowledge is key when it comes to early detection and prevention of Lyme disease and all tick borne infections," Rachel Berman said on Facebook.

Most patients recover when treated with antibiotics. A few experience symptoms for more than six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When that happens, the disease becomes chronic Lyme disease, a condition that not everyone in the medical community recognizes.

PREVENTION TIPS

- Preventing ticks in the yard

- Preventing ticks on your pets

- Preventing tick bites on people

- Contributing to research and education

Source: CDC and ILADS

Berman said she has encountered many doctors who don't understand her suffering. She has also experienced subsequent co-infections and she said that living with the illness has affected her physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

Stein, who said he is determined to fight, has been using a walker. And he was in a lot of pain.

"He has developed early stage arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, neuropathic pain ... [and] his loss of bladder or bowel control may indicate a more serious problem," said Cesar Barona, a friend who came in from Atlanta to visit him late July.

Despite being known as one of the brave seven who starred on Bravo TV's "Miami Social," Stein said it took courage to reveal his diagnosis on social media.

"I've been hiding a troubling underlying disease that is so complicated, because I didn't even know I became a host to it," Stein said on a Facebook post Saturday.

He added: "I no longer will be hiding in my own city alone."

Although he said his family has struggled to understand the illness, Stein is definitely not alone. Bravo TV's Yolanda Foster, of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," has been battling the debilitating disease for three years.

"Every day I'm fighting for my life ... For the past year, I felt like I was in prison in my head," Foster said during an interview with Life and Style magazine. "I had such severe neurological Lyme disease, it shut down the function of my left frontal lobe. I couldn't write, I couldn't read -- I was in bed for eight months staring at the ceiling."

Foster has been documenting her journey on Instagram and Twitter, where she has a combined 1.6 million followers.

"Searching for a cure," Foster said in a photograph of a coin that reads, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Researchers estimate that 329,000 cases of Lyme disease occur annually in the U.S., according to a CDC study. The incidence is higher in New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire, according to the CDC.

Emily Levy, 21, has been suffering with severe chronic Lyme disease since 2007. She recently told U.S. News that she suffers from "Lyme brain," a series of symptoms characterized by forgetfulness and confusion.

Levy formed PICCPerfect, a business to help other patients. And to fight the isolation that comes with the chronic condition, Levy uses the hash tag "Lyme Into Lemon Aid" on social media.

Stein has a long road ahead of him. He said he walked out of Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables on Wednesday. 

"Thank you all from Jackson, Doctors Baptist and Sinai," he said. "So many great nurses, doctors and friends. Let's see how long I can go."

Follow Local10.com reporter Andrea Torres on Twitter @MiamiCrime

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