Lyme Disease gains prevalence in Alabama - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Lyme Disease gains prevalence in Alabama


What was once considered a rare disease may not be anymore. And what's scary, you could have it and not even know it.

Health officials say Lyme Disease--caused by infectious tick bites--is more prevalent than they thought.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta anticipates 300,000 people will get Lyme Disease this year.

That's a 10% increase in cases based on a new study.

Symptoms include but aren't limited to fatigue, migraine headaches and fever, maybe even arthritis and much more severe symptoms if left untreated.

"I was sick. I had migraines, I had vertigo, right sided numbness, my right eye was drooping," says Melanie Garner.

Handfuls of doctors diagnosed Garner with handfuls of conditions.

But even the doctors "would always say the criteria doesn't exactly fit, but that's the best we can come up with," she says.

Garner researched her symptoms, talked with people who had experience with Lyme Disease and realized her symptoms were similar.

"That was probably a year before I even considered that possibility."

But she's not alone.

CDC officials believe--nationwide--there are people who have Lyme Disease who aren't being reported--making the number of cases much higher than statistics show.

Even the state of Alabama's numbers have jumped from nearly nothing to 25 in the last couple years.

"We're counting more cases now than we have in the past. Perhaps that's because of some efforts to shed light on what causes Lyme Disease," says Dee Jones, a veterinarian for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

"Bottom line is there needs to be more testing, you know more research," adds Garner.

Garner is part of a statewide association trying to get the word out about this growing disease. She plans to advocate and speak publicly when she finishes her treatment.

"For me it has made me realize you can't take tomorrow for granted. You might wake up tomorrow and not be able to walk."

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