RALEIGH, N.C. — Some experts say a mild winter has made this a particularly bad season for ticks and the diseases they spread.
Some tick-borne illnesses include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Early treat treatment for tick-borne illness is effective, but receiving no treatment can be disabling or fatal.
Dave Tierney, who was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, preaches regular tick-checks.
“Store the tick and mark your calendar and if you get symptoms, go to a doctor. A lot of people just don't go to doctors. That's the wrong thing to do,” Tierney said.
Tierney said he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than two years ago because his symptoms at the time seemed to match the disease. He was suffering from fatigue, depression, anxiety, peripheral neuropathy and nerve issues.
Recently, a doctor diagnosed Tierney’s condition as Lyme disease, carried by deer ticks. He isn’t sure if he was bitten back home in Connecticut or when he was serving as a marine at Camp Lejeune.
Though Rocky Mountain spotted fever is more prevalent in North Carolina, Tierney believes Lyme Disease is under-diagnosed.
Tierney said he wants to make others more aware of all ticks.
“I can't feel him and you can't see him and …if it embeds itself and it's there for more than 24 hours, you can catch a tick-related disease,” he said.
At a recent visit to Umstead Park, Tierney spread a towel on the ground and after a minute of dragging it through the short grass snagged 10 ticks.
“This is just like your backyard grass. I mean, this is the grass you'd find in somebody's backyard up against the woods,” he said.
In tall grass, Tierney picked up about 40.