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Jim Donovan Describes Contracting Lyme Disease: 'It Was Like Getting Hit By A Bus'

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Lyme disease cases are up drastically in Pennsylvania, which now leads the country with the highest number of cases. A new Lyme patient is one of our own.

Eyewitness News anchor Jim Donovan is being treated for Lyme disease. He's part of a growing trend as doctors say there's been a big increase in the number of people being treated for the infection, especially around the Philadelphia area.

"This was like getting hit by a bus," Donovan said while describing his symptoms.

"It was three days of spiking fever, chills, followed by waking up in cold sweats. I mean, it was really bad," added Donovan.

Once he saw a bull's-eye rash on his thigh, he knew it was Lyme disease.

"Early Lyme disease with the bull's-eye rash can be really disabling. You're very sick initially, but 99 percent of people are cured with three weeks of the prescribed course of antibiotics," said Anne Norris of Penn Medicine.

Donovan says he's already feeling better after a couple days on antibiotics. He's among a growing number of people in the Philadelphia region being treated for Lyme disease, which is caused by certain ticks.

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"I was wearing shorts. That was the only time I was not covered in that yard and the next day I noticed a little pimple on my leg," said Donovan.

The pimple turned into a big bull's-eye rash, a classic symptom of Lyme disease.

credit: cbs3

"This is a Jersey tick, in my suburban New Jersey lawn, in the front of the house yard, that's where this happened," said Donovan.

Doctors say ticks that carry Lyme disease are more prevalent in wooded areas, but can be anywhere.

While most people recover, Lyme disease that's not caught early can cause serious, long-term issues.

That's what happened to Brian Dougherty, a nurse in Philadelphia, who had palpitations, neurological issues and Bell's Palsy, partial facial paralysis, all from Lyme.

Donovan says he feels lucky.

"It really affects a lot of people and you look at them and they look fine but they have chronic symptoms and issues," he said.

Doctors say prevention is especially important now at the peak of the Lyme disease season. In addition to long sleeves and pants, you should use insect repellents that contains deet.

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