GRAYSON COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is hitting Grayson County hard.

Twenty-six cases were reported to the Grayson County Health Department in just eleven days. The tick-borne illness causes a painful rash and flu-like symptoms like a fever, chills, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, body aches and lack of appetite.

Grayson County has been the leading county in Kentucky for reported cases since 2016, but doctors said they’re seeing more cases this year than ever before.

“If you do think you have any type of symptoms, it never hurts to get checked out,” said Ben Williams, an emergency room doctor at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center ER Director. “It's always better to be over cautious that under cautious.”

Local doctors and the health department want to spread awareness.

"Be proactive with your health, and increase your awareness of tick-borne illness prevention to protect yourself, your family and your pets," said Rebekah Lee, a registered nurse with the Grayson County Health Department.

A local veterinary clinic has been involved in efforts to collect ticks and send to an outside lab for further testing. Many of those tick samples have returned positive for tick-borne disease."

Removing ticks and early treatment could be a lifesaver.

“Treat your yard, if you can,” Williams said. “It's not too expensive to do so, and it will help prevent the spread of illnesses.”

Williams said parents should check children and pets around their hairlines, behind their ears and in other hidden spots after playing outside.

“Make sure they take a shower or take a bath within the first couple hours of getting in there," he said. "Make sure you get their clothes off and inspect the child."

Health department officials said the illness hasn't killed anyone in Grayson County.

"It is possible for this to be fatal, but rare," Lee said. "Grayson County has not received reports of fatalities associated with any tick-borne illness. However, it's seriousness widely varies among individuals from mild to severe symptoms."

Health care professionals also said it's a good idea to cover up when walking through grassy and wooded areas and to use bug spray to prevent the serious illness.

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