Mild winter brings more tick-borne illnesses to Kansas

FILE - In this May 15, 2017 file photo, ticks are displayed that were collected by South Street Veterinary Services in Pittsfield, Mass. Tick numbers are on the rise across New England this spring, raising the prospect of an increase in Lyme and other diseases. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas had such a mild winter, and because of that, health officials say we’re now seeing more ticks and the illnesses they cause.

Cases of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever have skyrocketed across the state.

“As a mom, you feel hopeless. You feel like you’re supposed to protect your child,” said Brittney Strunk.

Two-year old, Isidore Strunk, or Izzy as his family calls him, looks like a happy little boy now, but just last spring he was fighting for his life.

He started getting a rash. and it kind of at first started getting chicken pox, but he was up to date on all of his vaccinations, so that didn’t make sense,” stated Strunk.

That rash along with a 104 degree fever and seizures convinced Strunk to rush her son to the ER.

Eventually, Izzy was flown to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City the diagnosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

“They told us that he was critical, and he was among the worst and it was bad,” Strunk.

The once lively little boy was connected to multiple tubes and an I-V.  In a coma for a week, Izzy lost several tips of his toes from infection.

”We never found a tick on him. We never found a tick bite. We need found anything on him that looked like a tick bite,” said Strunk.

But, Strunk did tell me, that a few days before Izzy started feeling ill, they were outside on their family property.

Health experts advise, whenever you spend a lot of time outdoors, check for tick bites.

“It’s important to check and do a full body tick check and make sure all the areas of your body don’t have ticks in them,” explained Chris Steward, Sedgwick Co. Health Dept.

Strunk says after extensive rehab, and lots of prayer, Izzy is now a healthy child.

But it’s a tough lesson the family had to learn.

“Think, oh it’s just a tick it’s no big deal, it’s just a bug bite. No, it’s not just a tick, they carry diseases that can kill you,” said Strunk.

Izzy still has regular checkups with doctors at Children’s Mercy to make sure the infection did not stunt any brain function.

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