Doctors predict Lyme Disease epidemic; Tampa Bay possible hotbed of debilitating tick-born disease

Posted at 2:51 AM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-26 15:14:43-04

Geane Gottschall loves her deer. Twenty of emerge from the forest next to her Wesley Chapel housing development.

She feeds the deer corn and takes pictures of her two young daughters with the animals.

"They come every day," says Gottschall. "They get so close to me, maybe 5, 10 feet."

The deer are lovely. They also could be dangerous.

The Pasco County woman never heard of Lyme Disease, which is spread via tick bites. The ticks live on deer, mice and even birds.

After a tick bites you, symptoms of Lyme can range from aches and pains to lethargy and memory loss.

Physicians still do not understand everything about the debilitating ailment. Many doctors are predicting a full epidemic this summer with a record 400,000 cases nationwide.

The Tampa Bay region could be a possible hotbed for Lyme Disease due to our warm weather, wildlife and suburban sprawl in rural areas.

The most visible tell-tale sign that you have Lyme Disease is a bull's-eye rash. If you catch the disease early, it can be treated with antibiotics.

"If you do not see the rash, and do not go to the doctor right away, it's very difficult to make a diagnosis of Lyme Disease," says Dr. Erfan Albakri, Florida Neurovascular Institute.

In later stages, Lyme Disease can mask itself as anything from anxiety to Alzheimer's.

If you live near a wooded or grassy area, you should check for ticks daily. Also, most insect repellants work against ticks.

For more information on Lyme disease, visit