Wagoner Woman Contracts Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever From Tick Bite
WAGONER, Oklahoma - A Green Country woman is recovering from a deadly tick-borne illness. For weeks, veterinarians have been warning about a severe tick and flea season.
A Wagoner woman just found out she contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tick bite she didn't even know she had.
Sheila Huggins knows to check her pets for ticks.
"Being a fifth generation Oklahoman, I knew about ticks and everything," Huggins said.
But she never thought about checking herself for ticks until she got very sick less than two weeks ago.
"I had a rash on me and I kind of felt sick to my stomach and I started getting a really bad headache," she said.
The day after those symptoms showed up, the 58-year-old saw a tiny tick on her stomach that had burrowed into her skin. She never even felt it.
"I hear about it all the time, I just had never met anyone that had it and I've never had it," Huggins said. "This is a new one for me."
Huggins' experience comes just a month after doctors and veterinarians gathered in Tulsa to warn about infested ticks.
"We are what we would call a certain epicenter for certain tick-borne illnesses," State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said in April.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be deadly if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. Typical symptoms include: rash, fever, headache, stomach pain, and vomiting and muscle pain.
Huggins still feels week and never wants anyone else to go through the same thing.
"Keep an eye on yourself, keep an eye on your children, your animals or whatever you have because everyone can get sick with it," she said.
Her doctors say she won't regain all of her strength for about six months.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is treated with antibiotics for adults and children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say less than 3 percent of patients die from it.