CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The summer months mean most of us are outside enjoying longer days.
But this is also the time when you and your kids are most in danger of getting bitten by what can be a tick carrying a dangerous disease.
So much so the CDC and the state of North Carolina have issued warnings saying this could be a very bad year for tick bites and Lyme disease.
And we’ve learned more people are choosing to get tested after seeing a tick – they’re not even waiting to see if they have any symptoms.
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“It was beautiful, nice out,” Gabby Santiago says of the day she was hiking with her dogs at Crowders Mountain.
“We got to the top of the mountain and we just kind of chilled out there.”
That calm – gone just a few hours later.
“I noticed I had this brown bug in my leg," she said. "I tried to wipe it away and then I realized it wasn’t going away... I had a moment when I did freak out.”
It was a tick.
“Immediately I was like do I get on the computer and research this – am I gonna have a limb fall off – you self-diagnose and it scares you.”
She didn’t wait to see if she had any symptoms of Lyme disease – the telltale bullseye rash- – instead she went straight to a lab for a blood test.
Turns out – more and more people are starting to do that.
Lori Wrench owns Any Lab Test Now and says, “I think the public is catching on that Lyme disease is a real problem in this area, it’s not just in the north.”
A quick blood test can determine if you have Lyme disease and they key is getting the diagnosis as soon as possible. The earlier it’s caught the better for minimizing symptoms.
“It’s easier to find, easier to treat if you don’t find it can’t get treatment.”
Santiago was grateful her test came back negative.
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“Peace of mind, knowing is better than not knowing,” she says.
You may not realize – ticks don’t only live in the woods – they can also be in grassy areas. State health officials suggest using tick repellent on any exposed skin.
And if you find a tick, they suggest using tweezers to remove it as soon as possible.