12 ON YOUR SIDE: Lyme disease in Chesterfield

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield mom calls 12 On Your Side for help getting the word out about Lyme disease.

Active kids love being outdoors, and Hailey Jennings, like most 7-year-olds, plays outside everyday - at home, at a friend's house. So, when she got a bug bite, it was no big deal - until it turned out to be a true health concern.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through a bite from infected black legged ticks or deer ticks. The risk of infection is present all year long but most often occurs in spring and late summer.

Hailey's mom initially thought a mosquito was the culprit but worried when Hailey complained it was sore, not itchy. The mark dramatically changed.

"On Sunday, it was just a little red bite. By Wednesday, that's when the ring was around it and then the dot inside it," said Rebecca Jennings.

The 7-year-old was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Doctors put Hailey on an anti-biotic for 21 days. Hailey is okay, but Rebecca is warning parents and urging them not to dismiss what may look like a simple bug bite.

"I never heard of anyone getting it before in my life. So, I had no idea and I always thought you had to find the tick. I didn't know it could just be a bite."

She says her daughter was never sick, and sometimes there is no rash.

People who do have symptoms usually complain of tiredness, stiff neck, muscle and joint pain. If untreated, you can develop arthritis, neurological and heart problems.

"I don't think parents realize it is happening here, in Richmond, in our own backyards. You don't have to be in the woods, or in the country or camping. It's happening here."

The routine for Hailey now, is to spray her skin and clothing with a bug repellant that contains Deet, but Rebecca says the take-away is: you don't have to ever see the tick, and you can get infected in your own yard.

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