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Health Officials Warn Of Deer Ticks Over Fourth Of July

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- With the Fourth of July two days away, health officials are warning people to be on the lookout for deer ticks.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District says the snow we received in mid-April insulated the ticks, allowing them to come out in force this spring and summer.

And with people enjoying the outdoors this week, one Lyme disease survivor has advice for vacationers.

"It was completely debilitating. It was terrible," said Holly Zelinsky.

For 13 long months, neither Holly Zelinsky nor her doctors knew why she was so sick.

"I couldn't do anything. I couldn't cut my own food. I couldn't stand in the shower. I couldn't drive a car and I couldn't work," said Zelinsky.

The symptoms of Lyme Disease were mostly there, but no bulls eye rash could be found.

"Over 50 percent of the time you don't get the bulls eye rash," said Zelinsky. "It took 3 negative regular doctor Lyme tests and then sending my blood and $1,300 out to California to get tested to finally get diagnosed."

Stories like Zelinsky's are all too common. Between 2004 and 2016, Wisconsin and Minnesota are sixth and seventh when it comes to tick-borne disease cases.

"I had no idea how prevalent it was here until I got it," said Zelinsky.

Facts like these are the reason Zelinsky created Lyme Awareness Minnesota for Lyme sufferers and survivors -- to help educate people about the disease.

She's also encouraged by efforts at University of Minnesota Duluth this summer, where students are collecting deer ticks to identify "hot spots."

And a new app called "tick tracker," inspired by a 13-year-old girl, shows what kind of ticks are around you.

"If I hadn't kept pushing for answers for those 15 months, I'd still be in my chair, miserable. But I pushed and pushed until I found out what was wrong with me," said Zelinsky.

More words of advice: Wear long clothing when in tall grass and wooded areas. But also, check your pets -- they carry ticks all the time.

And when you get back from being outside, put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes. That will kill any deer ticks that may have gotten on your clothing.

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