LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - For the first time in a decade, two cases of Lyme disease were confirmed in Arkansas earlier this year.
With a growing concern for Lyme disease in Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson will take an initiative on tick control Monday by signing a proclamation of the disease. For many who suffer from Lyme disease, this validation is just the first step towards better treatment and diagnosis.
"It swelled up, it got really nasty and I luckily got the classic bull's eye rash around it," recalled Lindsey Mears.
It was a tick bite that Little Rock hair stylist Mears will never forget. She began feeling the symptoms of Lyme disease shortly after being bitten by a tick Memorial Day weekend 2014.
"It was the worst flu-like symptoms," she said. "I had major inflammation on my brain and spine. I got viral meningitis. There were days it was hard to walk."
For months, Mears tried to get answers to no avail.
"Went to doctor after doctor, couldn't get help. Maybe, it's Lupus, maybe it's Fibromyalgia, maybe it's in your head," she said.
Next Monday, Hutchinson will sign a proclamation declaring the month of May as "Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Awareness Month."
Mears thinks this is finally the state recognizing that there is Lyme disease here.
"We're just in a fight for our life and just a fight to get people to believe us. To get proper testing, to get proper diagnosis will lead to better treatment," she said.
So far, there are only two cases of Lyme Disease recognized by the CDC here in Arkansas, but advocates say there are many more cases. The Arkansas Lyme Foundation claims over 150 people are living with Lyme disease in the state.