Rise in tick borne illnesses reported in Greene County

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- With that above normal heat that we have been experiencing the past few weeks experts believe ticks could be out longer than normal this year. And it is an up year for tick borne illnesses in Greene County. The Greene County health department is reporting 38 cases compared to 36 last year, and we still have a few months to go.

"If I wouldn't have been admitted, I would have not made it." said Matthew Brown, who was working outside in early May when he saw a tick on him. He brushed it off and didn't think much of it until a few days later.

"Crazy swings in body temperature with a fever and stuff. My heart rate got irregular and my head was in excruciating pain." Brown explained.

Matthew thought it was the flu, but when he went to the doctor he found out it was Ehrlichiosis, a serious tick borne illness.

"I didn't believe them. I just thought it was the flu or something else." Brown added.

Matthew ended up spending 6 days in the hospital. Later in the summer his brother Ben was also bitten by a tick.

"I started to feel like I do when I get really hungry." said Ben Brown.

But then the next day it got worse.

"I was the sickest that I have ever been in my life," Ben explained. "The fever was so high that we couldn't get it down. It was so high that I was hallucinating."

Ben also thought it may have been the flu but he remembered what his brother went through and it turns out Ben also had Ehrlichiosis.

"I have been bit by ticks all my life, we have run outside and have never experienced that and had no idea that it could even happen." Brown said.

The Greene County health department says of their 38 tick borne illnesses reported this year the two most common diseases have been Ehrlichiosis and the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

"It will be flu like symptoms, body aches, soreness, that kind of a thing. If you start feeling those sorts of things and you remember oh I had this tick bite, I saw a tick, go ahead and alert your healthcare provider." said Kathryn Wall, with the Springfield Greene County health department.

Things you can do to protect yourself are wearing long pants and long sleeves, and using insect repellent with deet. You can also be aware of your surroundings.

"Most commonly ticks are going to jump off of grass of leaves or any kind of outdoor foliage. So if you are walking down a trail, keep to the center of the trail." Wall added.

And if you are bitten by a tick, use tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull it straight out without twisting. If you begin feeling ill a few days after being bit by a tick...

"Get to the doctor as quickly as you can." Matthew added with a chuckle.

"It was the worst thing that I have ever been through." added his brother Ben.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.