LAKE COUNTY, Ill. (CBS) — Health officials in Lake County are warning residents about a tiny insect creating a big health scare.
They report a record number of cases of Lyme disease. CBS 2’s Pamela Jones learned just how deadly it can be in health watch.
Thomas Lee says his son Jason was a healthy Lake County Illinois businessman. That’s until a bite from an infected tick kicked off an illness that left the devoted father and husband on his deathbed.
Misdiagnosed, Jason died from Lyme disease complications eight years after the bite.
“My son had to die to save me because I knew nothing about Lyme,” said Lee.
Lee tested positive for Lyme disease after his son died. He visits Journeys Wellness Center for holistic treatments in Lakemoor to ease symptoms still lingering in his body.
“I had joint pains, headaches,” said Lee.
This year 20 cases of Lyme disease have been reported in Lake County so far–a new record. Experts like Lake County Epidemiologist Victor Plotkin say there could be 10 times as many undiagnosed cases out there. More ticks populating wooded areas could be part of the problem.
“We think that one of the reasons is this summer is kind of milder and that tick doesn’t like very hot weather so probably it’s more active,” said Dr. Plotkin.
He says brushing against tall grasses and plants in wooded areas and parks increases your chance of getting bitten by an infected tick. The signature bulls eye rash can develop when the bacterium from the bite spreads outward.
He says people get Lyme disease when an infected tick stays attached to the skin for 36 hours or more. So, if you live in or visit wooded areas – check your body and your pets too.