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Lyme disease, babesiosis survivor uses experience as a learning lesson for tick-borne disease prevention

As tick season ramps up, here's how you can keep yourself safe from tick-borne diseases
As tick season ramps up, here's how you can keep yourself safe from tick-borne diseases 01:53

RIDLEY PARK, Pa. (CBS) – Delaware County Health experts expect another busy tick season. They're urging people to take precautions while spending time outdoors.

A specialist from the Delaware County Health Department dragged a net through a state park on Tuesday morning to collect ticks for testing.

The blood-sucking parasites can spread a variety of illnesses, from Lyme disease to Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The CDC ranked Pennsylvania as No. 2 in the country for Lyme disease.

Amy Tiehel from Ridley Park, who survived Lyme disease and babesiosis, said it took her years to get a proper diagnosis. Her symptoms included fevers, severe headaches, memory loss, brain fog and partial facial paralysis.

"Honestly, I was stunned by how a tick the size of that nymph could wreak so much havoc on every system in my body," Tiehel said. She had to quit her job as an actress to focus on her recovery.

Zachary Babel, environmental health supervisor for the Delaware County Health Department, recommends using bug spray, wearing long sleeves and showering after you spend time in grassy or wooded areas.

"If you're going to be at a state park, staying on the paved trail is important," said Babel. "Ticks are less likely to be active."

The number of ticks collected has increased over the years.

"From 2019 to 2022, I collected 785 ticks," Chad Kennard, vector specialist at the Delaware County Health Department, said. "Last year, because of longicornis and the amount of larvae and nymphs that we found, we collected over 5,000 ticks. That's kind of indicative of how this year is going to go."

As for Tiehel, she is now focused on advocacy. She is the program manager of the Pennsylvania Lyme Resource Network's tick prevention campaign, Dare 2B Tick Aware.

Her organization is screening a documentary called "The Quiet Epidemic," which follows the story of a Brooklyn girl battling chronic Lyme disease. The screening will take place on Thursday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. at Delaware County Community College, Academic Building Auditorium, 901 Media Line Rd., Media, PA.

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