HUNTERSVILLE – Georgia Krueger, Ada Jenkins Center director, continues to struggle with Lyme disease after she was diagnosed with it in 2012.
In that same year, the Mecklenburg County Health Department reported seven cases of Lyme disease. North Carolina reported 173 Lyme disease cases in 2013, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Although Krueger is still infected with Lyme disease, she now feels significantly better than she has in the past. The Davidson resident knows several other residents in the Lake Norman community who are struggling with Lyme.
After this was recently brought to her attention, Mayor Jill Swain proclaimed May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
“It is such a scary disease and it so hard to manage,” Krueger said. “You do not know what happens next.”
Lyme disease is transmitted through a specific tick bite. Symptoms and severity of the disease vary from person to person.
Most people experience flu-like symptoms, chills, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and arthritis following a bright, red skin rash that appears as a bullseye at the site of the tick bite. The disease can cause long-term heart, brain and nerve problems.
Krueger experienced harsh migraines, digestion problems, body imbalance, dizziness and joint pains. The laid-back woman recently deals with anxiety and panic attacks, something she says she is not used to.
“I had and still have such weird symptoms. Before I was finally diagnosed with the disease, I had trouble swallowing,” she said. “Things had to get really bad before I realized I had Lyme disease.”
As far as treatments are concerned, Krueger has to see a local doctor in her hometown and one in Washington D.C.
“My physicians here in Davidson and in Washington, D.C. have helped me a lot. I go back to the doctor every four months,” she said.
Krueger went on a gluten-free diet while taking traditional and homeopathic medications.
“Lyme disease is very political because drug and insurance companies disagree on different treatment protocols because symptoms are so varied,” Krueger said. “The sickness is constantly misdiagnosed."
Deer carry ticks infected with the Lyme disease. Ordinary wood and dog ticks do not.
As suburban developments and the deer population grow, the number of people contracting the disease increases, according to WebMD.
People who live in wooded areas are more likely to become infected with Lyme disease as ticks thrive in places with grasses, shrubs and trees, especially in the summer when ticks are most pervasive.
Krueger and her husband live in a wooded area. She grew up on a farm. Regardless of the extremities she has faced, Krueger is not afraid to explore the woods.
“I will not let this disease change my life," she said. "I am an outdoor person."
Krueger recommends to anybody who has been in the woods to get a head-to-toe check. She suggests people wear long pants when spending time in woods or grassy areas.
As a way to express solidarity against Lyme disease, Krueger has a tick magnet on her car.
“I believe I will be healed,” she said. “I don’t want anyone in the world to have the disease.”
Krueger remains positive that she can get one step closer to not only ridding the disease, but also helping create awareness of Lyme disease within the community.