Last June, Lisa Mullen and her family took a trip to Door County, Wisconsin. But when she returned, she didn’t feel quite right.
“Shortly after that I started getting really tired, not your normal tired, I was really fatigued,” Mullen said. “I went to the doctor and they said I look fine.”
But despite her outward appearance, she was far from fine. Weeks passed, and her condition worsened.
“Everything started spiraling down,” she said. “I had fevers, night sweats. I had muscle twitches all over my body—hundreds of muscle twitches everywhere. Insomnia, I couldn't sleep.”
It wasn't until ten months later, after several doctor visits and dozens of tests, that Mullen was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Health officials in Lake County, Illinois, say there have been 100 reported cases in Lake County in the last three years, which is more than the previous 20 years combined. As summer approaches, experts are warning the public of an increased risk, but say that people shouldn’t be scared—just aware.
“This is the peak time for ticks, they like to come out when the season starts to warm up until the early part of summer,” said Michael Adam, senior biologist at the Lake County Health Department. “They are out and looking to bite, looking for a blood meal.”
Officials recommend wearing insect repellent and staying on the path in wooded areas. You should also always check yourself, your kids, and your pets for ticks after being outdoors. Early detection is key, experts say.
“We want people to be outside,” Adam added. “But when you go out, be prepared.”
Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and more. 70 percent of victims also develop a red bullseye mark around the affected area, officials say.
Mullen hopes her story can prevent someone else from going through what she has endured.
“Live your life. Have fun, but be smart about it,” Mullen said. “Check yourself. Check everywhere. They are the size of a poppy seed that can get you.”