Southern Indiana man nearly dies after tick bite

BORDEN, Ind . (WDRB) – Time is ticking when a tick bites you.

“For a solid week, (doctors) thought I was going to die,” said Paul Eve, who believes he was bitten by a tick while looking for his cat in the woods in Borden.

A few weeks later, he developed flu-like symptoms, became delirious and decided to see the doctor.

“They said you need to get to the emergency room, stat,” Eve said.

Doctors did a spinal tap and found Eve was bitten by a lone star tick and told him his case was pretty bad. He was infected by the Ehrlichia bacteria.

“In this area, the thing that we experience the most commonly as providers is Ehrlichia, and probably, year after year, second is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” said Dr. Paul Schulz, an infectious diseases specialist.

Schulz said it's a common misconception that Lyme disease is often the go-to response for tick bites in the Louisville area. In fact, he said certain tick-related illnesses vary by location. But removing the tick's whole body, including the head, is always the most important thing.

“The head, even though you’ve obviously killed the tick, could still theoretically transmit something,” Schulz said.

Most ticks require a significant amount of time to be attached to transmit a bacteria causing infection.

“You would typically need 24 hours of attachment before you're at risk for transmission,” Schulz said.

Because of the bite, Eve is now in a wheelchair and is slowly getting back on his feet. He said he also developed a neurological disorder, liver damage and pancreatitis.

“Just like a lot of things, you can have a very mild infection to life-threatening, and people die,” Schulz said.

Schulz said prevention is also key. If you’re going to be outside in a wooded area, wear long sleeves, pants and a hat. When you come back inside, you should always check yourself for ticks.

“I feel blessed to be here,” Eve said. “Between prayer and the knowledge that God gives doctors, that's why I'm sitting here.”

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