Mild Winter, Early Spring Increases Risk Of Lyme Disease

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A mild winter and an early spring mean we could see an increase in Lyme disease cases this year.

Fewer ticks died this winter, and on average more than a thousand cases are reported each year. That news worries Chris Richter, who says the disease changed his life after he went undiagnosed for 10 years.

“Lyme disease is one of the most miserable things I can imagine. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Richter said.

We first met Richter four years ago, when he was learning to live with Lyme disease. Now he’s getting his life back.

“It’s been a long road, but I’ve been feeling unbelievably well right now,” Richter said.

Richter began showing symptoms of the disease 16 years ago. He actually found a black-legged deer tick on the back of his left knee. Then came a rash, and soon after severe headaches set in along with extreme fatigue.

“The disease is very limiting,” he said. “Your world becomes very small. You don’t feel like going out and doing things.”

It took doctors 10 years to officially diagnose him in 2006.

“You get depressed,” Richter said. “You just can’t avoid it.”

The disease took his business – one that he started – from him. He couldn’t even do simple tasks, like read a book. But that’s all changing as his health returns. Now he’s warming up to others.

Richter thinks the deer tick that gave him Lyme disease actually came from his dog. He’s worried with an early spring, more people will suffer a similar fate.

“It’s something people don’t often think about; but if you have pets that go into the woods, they can bring them back to you,” Richter said.

He’s almost out of the woods now. If a check-up in June goes well, Richter can finally stop treatment.

“I can get on the treadmill and run for miles,” Richter said. “That’s something I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing just a few years ago. It just wouldn’t have been possible.”

Richter says a Lyme disease support group helped him get through the tough times. Their website can be found at:

More from John Lauritsen
  • Bill

    Let’s see the snow is gone and the ticks are out and the author thinks he really needs to tell us about the increased risk of lyme’s disease? Any one that has lived in tick country already knows that.

    • 1imaginarygirl

      Unfortunately, everyone does not already know that. It’s ridiculous how ignorant people are. I’m baffled at the number of people that say they don’t use tick prevention on their dogs because their dogs only go in the backyard. I guess chain link fences are impenetrable to ticks.

      • takefive

        Agree! Please do MORE of these reports! I am so glad the MN support link is associated with ILADS! Took me years to find a health care practioner who diagnosed me with Lyme- Late Stage!

    • Debra

      Bill: Not everyone. That’s generalizing to the extreme.

      A lot of people may have heard of Lyme Disease, but they may not realize that it is a very difficult thing to diagnose. Not everyone gets a rash. Not everyone knows they’ve been bitten by a tick. Not everyone gets a circular target where the bite took place, either. A negative test doesn’t mean you don’t have it. It only means you don’t have that particular strain. There are dozens upon dozens of strains that there are no tests for.

      My brother was tested for Lyme Disease a few times. The outcome was always “negative”. He is living with a mystery “undiagnosed illness”, being treated in all sorts of ways for all sorts of symptoms, but the bottom line is that if he could find a doctor that would treat him for Lyme Disease, he could have his life back. That is my hope and prayer for him.

      I am happy for Mr. Richter. His is a wonderful success story.

  • Kevin

    If Obama had a son……he would look like a tick………

  • Tina

    I applaud WCCO for running this story, and Richter for sharing his. What I want to see is special report on the numbers of Drs that deny treatment to Lyme sufferers. Why are THEY never questioned or interviewed ? Why is the public never warned that the standard Lyme Test isnt accurate ? WCCO, make a difference for the people of MN and run more news reports on this hidden epademic.
    MN Woman, Batteling Chronic Lyme

  • Pakou

    This is important information.

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