Knox Co. woman struggles with Lyme disease

Knox Co. woman struggles with Lyme disease, as CDC says cases are higher than reported

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Sherri McDermott was diagnosed with Lyme disease at the beginning of August. She still struggles with many of the symptoms. Sherri McDermott was diagnosed with Lyme disease at the beginning of August. She still struggles with many of the symptoms.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is 10 times higher than previously reported.

The center estimates that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000.

Sherri McDermott was diagnosed with Lyme disease at the beginning of August. She still struggles with many of the symptoms.

"Right now just standing here it's in my hips, my neck is stiff. My hands feel cramped," said McDermott.

She doesn't know when she was bitten by a tick and never saw a bite, but went to the doctor after having days of flu-like symptoms. She tested positive for Lyme disease.

Even though she's been on an antibiotic, she says she is still miserable.

"It's almost to the point of tears because the little bit of time I have to function in a day is I'm trying to get things done. If I say I'm going to get this done it just doesn't work that way I'm just exhausted that's the best way I can describe it. I'm just constantly exhausted," said McDermott.

Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, says Lyme disease is most common in the northeastern part of the country and recent studies show ticks do not carry the disease in Tennessee.

"The cases we have are someone who's traveled to a place where they do have Lyme disease, been bitten by a tick and they come back home," said Dr. Buchanan.

Dr. Buchanan says the disease starts with flu like symptoms that don't go away.

"Unless it's caught early it sticks around and keeps making you sick," said Dr. Buchanan.

If not caught and treated early, the disease can have long term effects.

"A person can have heart or neurological long term side effects from the disease. It can become chronic for some folks," said Dr. Buchanan.

The treatment is antibiotics and if caught early, Dr. Buchanan says a person can completely recover. The length the symptoms last depends on several factors.

"It depends on the person and how soon they get treatment how much of a bacteria load they have," said Dr. Buchanan.

McDermott says the main goal of going public is to make sure others don't ignore the symptoms and get help before it is too late.

"Not just to ignore its symptoms that may be prolonged. If you're going more than a week or two weeks and you're still feeling kind of achy and tired and sore don't pass it off that you've just done too much lawn work," said Dr. Buchanan.

Since 2007 there have only been six cases of Lyme disease in Knox County. Dr. Buchanan says to prevent getting Lyme disease wear protective clothing when you're in grassy or wooded areas and check yourself for ticks. A tick has to stay attached at least 36 hours to transmit the disease.

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