SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– It wasn’t too long ago Kristie Downen lived a totally normal life. She worked on a farm, raised up animals, and ate what she wanted. All it took was a single bug bite to throw that life off kilter.
“It’s just a life-changing thing,” the West Plains resident told reporters through video chat Monday. “I mean, I farm. This is where I raise goats and rabbits and I have dogs that I’m allergic to.”
The Lone Star tick that bit Dowden brought with it a mound of medical complications.
Today she says she’s allergic to foods, drinks and everyday items she’s previously never had a problem with.
“I’m still adjusting to not being able to eat the food I want,” she says. “I can’t have soda. There’s a lot of shampoos, lotions, stuff that we use today that has products in it that I’m allergic to like soy, milk, butter.”
Doctors are aware of the threat ticks pose this time of year. It’s why many recommend the following tips.
- Wear clothing treated with 5% Permethrin, use DEET-containing bug repellents, or ward off ticks with Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Wipe out tick hideouts by clearing out leaf piles in shady humid areas, place playsets in direct sunlight where ticks will dehydrate and die, and sprinkle wood chips around your property
- Check your pets
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and tuck in your shirt
- Wear light colors and spot ticks and their poppyseed-sized larva quicker
- Remove ticks with fine-tip tweezers. Grab the body as close to your skin as you can and pull upward in one firm motion. Do not jerk or twist. Leaving a part of the head or mouth inside the bite can cause issues.
- If you have a rash or fever call your doctor.
- Going without treatment can be dangerous. It can lead to severe lifetime health problems and can even cause death.
As for Downen, she recommends wearing bug spray if you plan on being outdoors for very long at all.
She says she’d hate to see her condition passed along to a child, as so far, it’s proving to be difficult for even the toughest adults.
“It’s different but it’s going to be ok. All you have to do is smile,” she says.
VIDEO BELOW: KOLR10 reporter Nyzah McDonald’s full broadcast report. She speaks with both Downen and medical experts on how you can stay safe this tick season.