Hardin County couple gets seriously sick after tick bites

Hardin County couple gets seriously sick following tick bites

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - A Hardin County family is learning more about a bug than they ever thought they would. They’ve become experts on ticks.

Ticks latch onto your skin and can be very dangerous, causing diseases that can be deadly.

Jim Brown was diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Jim Brown was diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Carol and Jim Brown, of Elizabethtown, enjoy gardening and spend a lot of time outdoors. Recently, Jim noticed he had a tick on his shoulder.

“Little tiny tick, not much bigger than a pinhead,” Jim said.

A few weeks later, he started having symptoms of high fever and body aches. He said it kind of felt like the flu.

He went to the hospital and was diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis, something he had never heard of.

Ehrlichiosis is a bacterial illness spread through a tick bite, like the lone star tick. He got on antibiotics.

A few weeks later his wife, Carol, also got sick. But her symptoms were much worse.

Carol had a fever, lack of appetite, she was disoriented and had trouble getting around. Those were just some of the issues. Carol eventually ended up in the hospital, too.

Carol got a more serious illness: Rock Mountain Spotted Fever. (Source: Family video)
Carol got a more serious illness: Rock Mountain Spotted Fever. (Source: Family video)

After several tests, she was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is very rare.

“They did all kinds of tests,” Carol said.

She is taking an antibiotic, as well.

“Most people that have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, they seek care,” Dr. Paul Schulz, Infectious Disease Specialist at Norton Healthcare, said.

It can be deadly if not treated early with antibiotics.

“What’s important with ticks in particular is a check after your activity (outdoors), because they have to be attached over 24 hours in almost all cases to pass an organism to a human being,” Schulz said.

One of the signs of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a rash. There is no vaccine to prevent it.

Anyone who spends lots of time outdoors needs to take precautions to prevent tick bites and check themselves for ticks after coming indoors. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Anyone who spends lots of time outdoors needs to take precautions to prevent tick bites and check themselves for ticks after coming indoors. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Anyone wanting to protect themselves can use products like permethrin and deet. Also, it helps to keep skin covered when outside.

As for Jim and Carol, they are doing better. They say what they went through was quite possibly the worst medical scare they have ever faced.

“As small as it is, it’s hard to realize it can have that bad of an effect on you,” Jim said.

For more information on Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, click or tap here.

For more information on Ehrlichiosis, click or tap here.

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