Tickborne illnesses on the rise in one Heartland county

Tickborne illnesses on the rise in Butler County, Mo.

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - Health officials in Butler County, Missouri have seen more cases of tickborne illness in the last two years.

They are saying people with underlying health issues are more at risk.

Nurse Whitney Preslar says they’ve confirmed 43 cases of tick borne illnesses so far this year and most are adults.

Preslar says it can takes days, even weeks for the symptoms to show up

In rare cases when someone does not go to the doctor, tickborne illness can be fatal.

“If you have a tick bite and you start to feel ill, the key things being running a fever, chills, headache, rash. Go to the doctor and get it checked out because you have to take a antibiotic. That is the only thing that is going to get rid of it is an antibiotic," Preslar said.

Heartland News spoke to a former Marine who says a tick bite landed him in the emergency room.

Hap Smith lives in Wappapello and has diabetes and COPD. Smith says he found a tick on him after working in his yard, and a few days later he could not get out of bed.

“I’ve had the flu in the past, and this was nothing like it. It was worse than the flu the burning up and sweating. I recommend you get to the doctor right away and not wait three days like I did. It’s why I ended up spending another six in the hospital," Smith said.

He said the experience was eye opening and he plans to be more cautious.

Most health departments in southeast Missouri offer free bug repellents and wipes that can protect you from ticks.

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