BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Another wet spring day following a mild winter. Biologists are predicting an explosion of ticks in Maryland. Denise Koch has more on how those ticks are fueling an epidemic of Lyme disease.
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in Maryland.
In 2015, more than 1,700 cases of Lyme disease were reported in the state, according to Maryland DHMH.
Most people think to look for a bulls-eye rash to find out if they have Lyme disease. But, one California family found out the symptoms can be far more varied and frightening.
This is tick paralysis:
The Lewis family took Evelyn to the E.R. and, sure enough, they found a tick embedded in her hair.
Attorney Susan Green’s first hint she had Lyme was just as frightening:
“I had a seizure in the middle of a trial. I lost my ability to speak and after I lost the use of both my hands I couldn’t control my limbs. I had twitching throughout my body. My memory was completely wiped out.”
Green says she had Lyme and didn’t even know it.
“Mine had gone misdiagnosed for so many years,” she says.
“I tested negative four times and so my doctor told me you don’t have to worry about it. It’s not Lyme.”
Today, Green is an international advocate for Lyme. The bacteria is carried by the black-legged deer tick.
Sixty percent of the time people are tested for Lyme, they get a false negative.
“Lyme disease symptoms can often be non-specific, which means they don’t have that clear indicator ‘Hey this is Lyme disease’,” says Katherine Felman with the health department.
It is important to let your healthcare provider know if you’ve been in tick habitat.
Even more important, is to avoid getting a tick bite and know where they’re commonly found ticks like moist, brushy areas.
Wear protective, long clothing and use repellent when you’re outdoors and do a daily tick check of you, your children and your pets. You should also shower within two hours of being outside.
Lyme disease is the great imitator.
Interestingly, singer Kris Kristofferson was misdiagnosed as having dementia, Alzheimer’s until years later it was discovered to be Lyme’s. He was treated and is now recovering.
Susan Green got a bill passed in Maryland last year that requires a lab to tell you a negative result to a Lyme test is not a guarantee you have not been infected.