Tick-borne diseases can cause serious illnesses, including Lyme disease. Prevalent throughout New Jersey, ticks are found in wooded and grassy areas. Here’s what to after a family hike to protect yourself against tick bites. Russ Zimmer

When Keith Bradshaw of Bolton recently told his story to the Clarion Ledger about contracting Lyme disease in Mississippi and his struggle to get proper care, it caught the interest of readers and others suffering from the disease.

Bradshaw said he was bitten by 10 to 15 small ticks in the fall of 2015 while cutting a food plot for deer. Within a few months he became so ill he thought he was dying. He was treated for anxiety and depression.

After three years of his eyes being sensitive to light, loss of balance, loss of hearing and confusion, along with facial, foot and hand numbness, Bradshaw knew anxiety and depression were not the causes. After researching his symptoms, he determined he had Lyme disease and a Western Blot Test confirmed it.

Even so, an infectious disease doctor he was referred to wanted to run tests for other possible causes and would not treat him for the disease. Bradshaw received treatment out of state and is now recovering.

Lyme disease treatment: Searching beyond Mississippi

Lyme disease is transmitted by black-legged ticks, often called deer ticks. Due to the wide range of symptoms that are associated with it, the disease is often misdiagnosed, according to Bradshaw. Another problem with getting treatment in Mississippi is some in the medical community don’t believe the disease is present in the state.

“The doctors won’t treat you because they say you can’t get Lyme disease in Mississippi,” Erica Broome of Hinds County said. “It’s just crazy they’re still saying it doesn’t exist in Mississippi. It’s just crazy.”

Broome found a tick on her head on Jan. 7 and soon after developed headaches. She initially felt the headaches were caused by her new prescription eyeglasses. Then she began experiencing burning sensations in her neck, thirst, fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, digestive problems and fluctuating body temperatures.

Remembering the tick bite, she suspected Lyme disease and had a Western Blot Test run. It came back positive. Her initial treatment in Mississippi was unsuccessful, so friends referred her to a doctor in Mobile. She is now recovering and feels fortunate she received treatment quickly.

Lyme disease symptoms: ‘I got sicker and sicker’

Buddy Black of Greenville wasn’t so lucky. Black hunts in Mississippi and other Southern states. He believes he was exposed to Lyme disease while hunting in Texas roughly 13 years ago. When he returned to Mississippi, he began to feel sick.

“I got sick and didn’t know what I had,” Black said. “I got sicker and sicker and sicker. I was missing more and more work.”

Black said he couldn’t find anyone in Mississippi who could figure out what was wrong with him and he was exhibiting 42 symptoms. After 15 months of suffering, Black made a graph. He placed symptoms in one column and then found a possible diagnosis for each and placed them in another column. The most common diagnosis was Lyme disease.