Lyme Disease is caused by the bite of a Deer Tick.
ABC 8News Anchor Amy Lacey met with local Lyme patients (From Left) Travis Mickens, Ryan Stewart, Amy and Dawn Wilson
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and ABC 8News wants to help you detect the symptoms.
"It's literally been like falling into a nightmare and not being able to wake up," says Travis Mickens, who has been battling Lyme since July 2009 when he was bitten by a Deer Tick.
Like many patients, Mickens never had the bulls eye rash associated with Lyme, but his symptoms can be debilitating. "If I look at the light the wrong way, it can cause migraines, seizures and different things."
"Vertigo, balance issues, and some people have cardiac problems," Dawn Wilson goes down the list of other Lyme Disease symptoms. She contracted Lyme in both 1998 and 2006 while working as an Ecologist.
Wilson suffered from severe Vertigo for eight years until she was finally diagnosed. "Lyme Disease is considered to be the greatest imitator out there because it mimics so many other diseases. It's almost the process of elimination."
Because prevention is critical, Wilson recommends staying away from high grass, especially in marshy areas. She wears light clothing for easy tick detection and an insecticide called Permethrin.
Ryan Stewart, who's had Lyme Disease for nearly five years, takes steps inside the house too. "A lot of us have pets that sleep in the bed or obviously come into our house, so check for ticks diligently." She adds, "Early detection is really key with it."
The Virginia Department of Health reports 1,100 confirmed cases in 2012, but the Centers for Disease Control estimates the actual number could be as high as 11,000. It's why patients like Mickens, Wilson and Stewart urge you to stay on top of any ailments following a tick bite, even if Lyme tests come back negative.
Last year Virginia became the first state in the country to enact a Lyme Disease Law, which requires doctors to educate potential patients about the inaccuracies of testing.