(KILGORE, TX) - This is expected to be the worst tick season in years, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Ticks are small and can be easily missed, but they can carry diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. One mom in Kilgore knows this all too well, and now, she's hoping to make more parents aware of the dangers of ticks.
"I came home from work one day, and he had been complaining of areas hurting," says Melissa Holcomb.
Holcomb's 4-year-old son, B, was bitten twice by ticks last week. The encounter landed him in the emergency room for hours. Holcomb says the next seven days are crucial for her son.
"I immediately called his pediatrician and asked her what to do.," says Holcomb. "She told me to put him in a bath, so I put him in there. And if the swelling didn’t go down within an hour, to call her back or take him to the ER. The swelling didn’t go down so I took him to the ER.”
Holcomb says that while in the hospital, several blood tests were done on B. He was diagnosed with Lyme disease as a result of the tick bites.
"When they did the blood test at the hospital, you're liver count is suppose to be at a 150," says Holcomb. "He's was 50."
While not all species of ticks carry Lyme disease, the two that bit Holcomb's son did. Now, antibiotics are helping his body fight the effects of the disease on his liver.
"You're not sure if you should get a medicine that might harm him or you should just not get the medicine, and see what happens."
Dr. Richard Wallace with UT Health Science Center in Tyler says most tick bites don't lead to Lyme disease, but when they do, flu-like symptoms are sure to follow.
"For two days, he was throwing up and had fever, and I just thought it might have been a virus," Holcomb says.
Warm weather helps mosquitoes and ticks breed and transmit disease much faster. While the CDC doesn't suggest that people drop their summer plans, they do say that it's increasingly important for everyone, especially children, to take steps to protect themselves from bites.
Some things that suggest people do include:
- Cover up before any outdoor activities
- Use insect repellent on any exposed skin
- Avoid areas where ticks breed, like tall, grassy fields
And Holcomb says another thing to remember, "check your kids or teach them how to check themselves to make sure they don't have ticks on them."