Tick suspected for two-year-old's death can be found in East Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- After a two-year-old died in Indiana, doctors suspect the American Dog tick could be to blame. The same tick can be found in East Tennessee.

MGN Online

Local 8 News reporter Sarah Jane Anderson spoke to a Tennessee woman who was told tick bites were to blame for her Lyme Disease.

"I am a complete 'tick-phobe,'" said Debra DeWitt. "I use different chemicals that are strong and not beneficial in other ways, but my first line of defense is to make sure I don't get bitten by another tick."

She said she contracted symptoms of Lyme Disease twice, and she blamed ticks both times.

"I had to go to an infectious disease doctor who would understand an alternative route for my treatment," she said.

Local 8 News visited Dr. Daniel New, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital, to see how often someone can contract the disease from ticks.

"We see it very, very rarely," Dr. New explained. "People call it the Deer tick, but the proper name for it is the Black Legged tick. And that tick, for some reason, we do not see people bringing that in very often in East Tennessee. It bites people in other parts of the country."

As it turns out, DeWitt is from Upstate New York, where more cases are found.

Another type of tick, the American Dog tick, can be found in places like Indiana, where doctors suspect a two-year-old died after being bitten. That tick can also be found in East Tennessee.

"Even though it is called Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, it is actually very common in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina," said Dr. New. "It is probably the most common tick-born disease that is seen in the emergency room here."

Dr. New went on to say it's nearly impossible to avoid ticks, but people should just be aware of their surroundings and the threats possible.

"Most people who are bitten by a tick will not result in infection," he said. "The key is to inspect the child when they come indoors, remove the tick, and if you save the tick and bring it to a doctor, they can identify it."