Lyme Disease: Northern Nevadan "Ticked" and Raising Awareness - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Lyme Disease: Northern Nevadan "Ticked" and Raising Awareness

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It has been a long road for Kendelle Abts, who was about 11 years old when things started happening to her body that no one could explain. "There's not a time where I don't remember being sick." Flu-like symptoms turned into chronic sinus infections, joint pain, numbness, random swelling, even boils and rashes all over her body. "I was diagnosed with so many things; a lot of times it came back as inconclusive."         

The first sign something was wrong came shortly after a school trip to Point Bonita in the Bay Area. "That's where I was unknowingly bitten by a tick which is actually one of the most prevalent areas for Lyme-infected ticks." You do not always feel a tick bite. Some ticks are the size of a poppy seed. If you do not find the tick, or the tell-tale bulls-eye rash – Lyme disease will eventually present itself with a slew of symptoms that mimic other diseases. For Kendelle, it started after she cut and donated her hair. It never fully grew back and the hair that did was brittle. "That was the first sign, but we didn't know what we were looking for. Then after that, my joints hurt and I was so tired."

Kendelle lived 11 years without answers. Her mom, Julia, found an internist - who after running 60 blood tests - determined she does, in fact, have Lyme disease with five co-infections. The co-infections need to be treated with dozens of daily pills before she can even start treatment for Lyme which is an incredibly destructive bacteria. "This is really hidden. It's under the radar. It's sneaky and here it is,” explains Julia. “This will be the story she walks out the rest of her life." At best, Kendelle is looking at four years of treatment. However, the longer it takes to catch - the greater the likelihood of chronic health issues which is why Kendelle and her family are raising awareness about the severity of this disease. "I wish I had pushed any medical professional to run further tests and not rested until we had an answer,” shares Julia who is understandably emotional about not learning of the diagnosis sooner. They are now looking out for other families and using their voices to make a difference. Kendelle and Julia are heading to Washington, D.C. to speak with lawmakers about Lyme disease.

By the way, Washoe County School District tells us sixth graders do not often travel to Point Bonita anymore due to the distance and cost. But for those who do, a topical, non-aerosol repellent is being added to the list of supplies they need to bring.

To learn more about Lyme disease, check out the following resources:

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