Iowans that spend time camping or hiking in the woods this summer should be cautious of a small insect that can cause big trouble. Ticks can carry Lyme Disease, which can be difficult for doctors to diagnose. The CDC says the symptoms of Lyme Disease vary from person to person.
Many patients experience fatigue, chills, a fever and muscle and joint pain. Dan Wolfe of Iowa City says he was mushroom hunting in May when a tick attached itself to his stomach. He soon developed a rash the size of a pancake and started to get worried when the symptoms intensified.
"If I coughed, my eyes…my vision would go completely black. I couldn’t see anything for a couple of seconds," Wolfe said. After four visits to the hospital over a five week period, doctors finally realized Wolfe had Lyme Disease. During that time, the disease paralyzed half of his face. "It was like Novocain had been shot in one side of my face," Wolfe said. "I couldn’t move it at all."
Wolfe is getting married in a few weeks and initially worried he wouldn’t be able to smile on his wedding day. His conditions have improved, but Wolfe says he continues to feel weak and tired. Doctors aren’t sure how long he’ll continue to feel the effects of the bite.
Johnson County Public Health Director Douglas Beardsley says ticks are typically a problem this time of year. "The weather’s warmed up and people are out in the woods tramping around. So, the exposure to ticks is greater," Beardsley said. The Iowa Department of Public Health says there were 105 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease in Iowa in 2008. Beardsley says anyone who gets a tick bite and then experiences flu-like symptoms, should see a doctor right away.