Prepare for an Uptick of Ticks

Prevent Health Problems From Tick Bites

Jennifer Carrico
By  Jennifer Carrico , Senior Livestock Editor
Mardee Sadowsky, of Eagleville, Missouri, was diagnosed with Lyme disease two years ago and has dealt with many symptoms since then. (DTN photo by Jennifer Carrico)

REDFIELD, Iowa (DTN) -- A mild winter in much of the United States has led to a large population of ticks this spring. Finding them on humans and animals and removing them is important, but other problems can arise with tick bites. For Eagleville, Missouri's Mardee Sadowsky, a tick bite led to life-changing health issues with a Lyme disease diagnosis.

"It started when I was 17 and the doctor thought I was having growing pains like other kids my age," Sadowsky said. "I had insomnia and tried to manage that by cutting caffeine and watching what I ate, but I still had chronic joint pain. My senior year of high school was the hardest. I tried to manage my diet and sleep schedule closely, but I was still not feeling right."

Living on a farm or ranch means exposure to the places where ticks live and can lead to bites that could lead to more problems. Dozens of different types of ticks can carry different bacteria and viruses causing illnesses like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Symptoms of tickborne diseases include fever/chills, aches and pains, fatigue and rash. While ticks can't jump or fly, they will fall on the host as it passes by. The CDC says depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed on the host can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface. It attaches by inserting its feeding tube and sucks blood from minutes to days. The tick can then ingest the pathogens it carries into the blood.

Sadowsky continued to have some symptoms of Lyme disease, but thought they were something else. Then in February 2022, she had a series of seizures that led to a doctor at the urgent care clinic wanting to look more into it. "I was admitted to the hospital with thoughts I could possibly have a neurological disorder. I underwent many different tests to determine what I was suffering from," she added. "The stress and chronic pain I suffered from for so many years before an actual diagnosis wore on me."

Then came a Lyme disease diagnosis and the thought that she had been suffering from this for five years. Different tests were done to determine the stage of Lyme disease Sadowsky suffered. Treatment with antibiotics usually helps dissolve the symptoms of the disease, but after a certain period of time, Lyme disease can also go dormant in the body. At that point, she used homeopathic treatments to strengthen the body to overcome the remaining/lasting symptoms of untreated Lyme disease.

"I needed to get back on track to have fewer seizures, less brain fog, and less pain overall," she added. "I wanted to finish college and thankfully I had professors who were helpful and understanding."

She did graduate with a degree in mathematics from Oral Roberts University in May 2023. Today, she is getting an Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and working as a research assistant. She is living a new normal, which won't be the same as before Lyme disease, but she is finally healthy, has high energy and is happy.


Preventing getting tick bites will obviously prevent dealing with these painful diseases. Reducing exposure to where ticks live is the best option, but not always the easiest. Tick exposure can happen year-round depending on the region, but ticks are most active during the warmer months from April to September.

The CDC recommends treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. This can be used to treat clothing, footwear and any gear. Use EPA-registered insect repellents.

When returning from areas where ticks may have been, check clothing and skin for ticks. Gear and pets should also be checked. The CDC also recommends showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases.

Sadowsky said she and her family are very aware of ticks and always check each other when they've been out on the ranch. "If you get a tick bite and question if it could be a problem, just go to a doctor and get it checked to be safe," she added. "Many doctors use the medicine model when treating Lyme disease, but if you aren't getting better, go to a different doctor and keep trying until you find answers."

For more information on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, visit….

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Jennifer Carrico