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Staten Island Woman Gets Spinal Meningitis From Tick Bite

And now, a new reason to fear ticks.
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And now, a new reason to fear ticks. Getty Images

Earlier this year, we mentioned the coming wave of ticks that scientists have predicted will hit the northeast, and the various diseases they'll bring with them. One thing the story left out was the possibility of spinal meningitis, but as one woman's story shows, that's also something you should definitely worry about.

After experiencing what she called "excruciating pain," face numbness and nausea, Dee Vandenburg was told by doctors at Staten Island University Hospital that she developed a case of spinal meningitis because of a tick bite, according to the Staten Island Advance. Vandenburg was treated for the disease, an infection of the fluid and membranes around the spinal cord and brain, in two separate hospital stays in August, and said that she spent three weeks getting almost no sleep because of the intense pain in her back.

Vandenburg said she hadn't even been aware she was bitten by a tick, until developing a case of Lyme disease that then turned into spinal meningitis. She told CBS2 that she'd gone untreated for four months after she got the deer tick bite, which is what helped lead to the debilitating spinal condition.

Vandenburg lives near Wolfe's Pond Park, according to CBS, a heavily wooded area whose deer population has been increasing. That leads to more opportunities for ticks to spread, which is how she said an additional six people in her neighborhood wound up with tick-borne diseases this summer.

Representative Dan Donovan, who represents Staten Island in Congress, urged his constituents to always check themselves for ticks after enjoying the great outdoors. Donovan is also the co-sponsor of a bill that would set up a program allowing people to send pictures of ticks and tick bites to the CDC and in response get medical advice about the next steps they should take.

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