Tick trouble: Apex woman with Lyme disease warns others

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At least 17 people have been diagnosed with Lyme disease in Wake and Durham counties this year.

An Apex mom is getting a wakeup call about tick bites and she's hoping her painful lesson will serve as a warning to others.

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Suzanne Brown is an avid runner and frequents Umstead State Park. Now, she's one of at least 17 people diagnosed with Lyme disease in Wake and Durham counties this year.

She is learning how to walk again. The health educator has run 36 half-marathons, but now she struggles to walk a mile after being diagnosed with Lyme disease.

"My first mile walk was 22 minutes, and today I did a 12 minute mile, and it hurt, but I did it," Brown said.

She first noticed a problem when her knee began to swell, but she struggled without a diagnosis for four months because the disease is considered rare.

"I couldn't lift my body out of the tub," Brown said, "and I couldn't bend my knee, and I had to roll out and that was the worst day that I've ever had in my life. I was just sitting there wondering what am I going to do."

"I went to see this guy and he was just like 'you probably don't have Lyme disease, but I'll test for it.' Well I said 'test for everything. I'm dying. This is miserable,' and he called me back the next day and said you have Lyme disease,'" Brown recalled.

Brown is on antibiotics and steroids now, but she needs the help of a specialist and she's been met with waiting list after waiting list because of the rare nature of the illness.

"I guess my first thought is if I'm taking the wrong medication now, and I'm not going to get better, that I could be really sick by July 2018," she said.

In the meantime, the runner is pushing herself for her next marathon - registering Friday for one in March.

How should you protect yourself from the threat of tick bites?

At least 110 North Carolinians have been diagnosed with it this year according to NC DHHS, so ABC11 asked Coleen Sullins, a retired state environmental engineer with the division of water quality, what she recommends to protect yourself:

  • Wearing light colored clothing because ticks will show up against it easily. Something important as ticks should be removed with tweezers immediately.

  • Spraying your clothing and shoes with insect repellant, not just your skin.

  • Tucking in pants into socks, and creating a seal around this area if you're working outside.

Related Topics:
healthtickslyme diseasehealthdurham county newswake county newsApex
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