Summertime pests like mosquitoes and ticks aren’t only annoying – they can be deadly. That’s the message from Judith Wigge. She’s president of the Lyme Disease United Coalition in the Midwest. Wigge says Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria that is carried by mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and biting flies.
The insect picks up the bacteria when they bite another animal, like a deer, that is infected. Wigge knows about Lyme Disease first hand. She’s in the late stages of Lyme Disease and is confined to a wheel chair.
“I’ve had cancer from this. It took me six years to relearn to read and write from the brain damage of it,” Wigge said. “It is a frightening disease in reality. People take it lightly. We need to look at this seriously.”
Symptoms of Lyme Disease often include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, a headache, fever, swollen glands, a sore throat and a stiff neck.
Wigge says the symptoms may come and go and only one-third of patients experience the a “bulls-eye” rash around the bite. Wigge advises people who are venturing into wooded areas to wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants with socks pulled over the pant leg.
Parents are encouraged to check their children for ticks every night if they’ve been playing outdoors. This past weekend, Wigge helped organize a special event at the Iowa Dreamland Theater in Carson, Iowa. The theater featured the documentary “Under Our Skin.”
Wigge calls the film “riveting.” The film nearly won awards at the Oscars and features people from Iowa. Wigge says 14 Iowans have died from Lyme Disease.