KAMAS, Utah — A Kamas mother is warning other parents as her young son suffers from Lyme disease.
Immediately after 9-year-old Beau Vanwormer and his brother Lucas came back from a hike, their mother found a tick.
“I saw a tick actually walking on my kitchen floor that day. I picked it up. I said, 'Go shake off your clothes, let’s check you everywhere,'” Baillie Vanwormer said.
But the family missed one. A tick was hiding in Beau’s hair for a week before it was found.
“I was so anxious just to get it out,” Baillie said.
The telltale bullseye rash and a large abscess formed at the tick site one week later. Beau was rushed to Primary Children's Hospital. Doctors think it’s Lyme disease.
“I have never once had it cross my mind that this could lead to something so serious and dangerous and life-long,” said Baillie.
Beau is back home now, but he still has aches and pains.
“Lyme disease is probably the most undiagnosed in Utah or even in the West because we don’t have accurate ways to diagnose it," said Kurtis Hinderman a Lyme disease expert and nurse practitioner at Forum Health. "There are still plenty of people who don’t even think it is out here."
Hinderman warns that symptoms are flu-like and are often confused with other diseases. Confirmed cases of Lyme disease rose 166 percent since 2009 in Utah, according to the latest data by the CDC.
“It is definitely more prevalent than you would think. It’s not just an East Coast disease. It is certainly making its way out west,” Hinderman said.
Hinderman urges people to wear insect repellent with deet and long-sleeved clothing while in the backcountry. Also, it’s important to check for ticks once inside.
“This is a real thing. I was uneducated about it and I am an avid hiker,” Vanwormer said.
A study by the EPA suggests climate change is one contributor to the increase of Lyme disease. Ticks, which carry and transfer the disease to humans, aren’t dying off during warmer winters, so populations are continuing to grow.