Health officials warn of tick, mosquito-borne diseases

Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed April as Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month, as state health officials issue warnings to keep people safe.

"Symptoms are loss of feeling, numbness in fingers and toes, swelling of the joints, elbows and ankles," explained John Dorney, the president of the North Carolina Lyme Disease Foundation.

Dorney was diagnosed a decade ago while he was working for the state. He said his scariest symptom was memory loss, describing it further as "brain fog."

After years of oral and intravenous treatments, Dorney estimated he is about 95 percent back to normal, noting he still suffers from mild fatigue and slight neuropathy in his feet.

"I just am very careful, but even so no matter how careful I am, I still pick up a tick or two a year, and then I'm freaked out for a couple weeks," said Dorney.

Health officials said nearly 1,000 people suffered tick and mosquito-borne diseases in 2018.

The CDC said there were 10 human cases of West Nile Virus in North Carolina last year, including one each in Wake and Cumberland counties. State officials said there tends to be a higher incidence rate of Lyme Disease in the northwest portion of the state.

"If you get a tick bite and you have a fever and develop a rash within a week, you should definitely go and visit your physician," said Alexis M. Barbarin, an entomologist with NC DHHS.

There are several measures you can take to protect yourself while outside: wear long sleeves, tuck your pants into your socks, use insect repellent with DEET, put up a mosquito-net around your porch, gazebo or other outdoor areas, and perform thorough tick checks around your body after being outside.

The North Carolina Lyme Disease Foundation hosts monthly support group meetings.

If you're interested in participating, click here.
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