BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KNWA) – “This year I got out in the yard like everybody else this spring and I got a tick bite,” said Bella Vista resident, Scott Miller.
Miller has gotten several tick bites in the past but said after he started experiencing flu-like symptoms, he realized this one was different.
“Everything seemed to be going okay,” Miller said. “Next thing I know, I just couldn’t get rid of it. I just could not get rid of the flu.”
After some blood work, Miller was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, a disease the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says is rare with less than 20,000 cases a year.
“You have no energy,” Miller said. “You take about 15 steps and you just want to sit down and go to sleep for a while.”
“The important thing with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is to catch it early,” said family practitioner, dr. Pearl Samuel. She said untread RMSF can have devastating results.
“It can cause damage to the blood vessels leading to amputation to the toe or feet,” Dr. Samuel said. “It can also present with kidney failure, lung failure.”
Dr. Samuel said the treatment is an antibiotic that can cure the disease, but prevention is always best.
“Check your body at least twice a day if you’re in a tick-infested area,” said entomologist, Kelly Loftin. He said clothes and skin repellants are a good way to prevent bites.
While ticks are usually found in woody areas and trails, they can be as close as your front yard.
“Keep the brush down,” Loftin said. “Keep the grass cut and that reduces the humidity so they don’t survive as well.”
A tip Miller has taken to the extreme by killing all the grass in his yard.
“It’s a shame because I used to have really nice grass, but I can’t have that anymore,” Miller said.
Miller has seen several doctors since his diagnosis who don’t know anything about his disease. He said he wants people to be aware of it.