Romeo woman battling Lyme disease has warning for others

Image 1 of 5

A Romeo woman comes down with a potentially-deadly disease. Fortunately, she survived, now she's hoping her story serves as a warning to others.

A tick can not only drain your blood, it can drain your life as well.

"It's kind of like a little zombie animal that can wait for a long period of time until something comes by that it can latch on to," said Mark Vanderwerp, entomologist. "If it’s the blacklegged tick, the Lyme disease, that's the biggest concern in our area."

Back in 2008 Tina Perri had everything going for her - a great job and her health. But it all changed March 9, 2009.

"I just started getting sick at my desk one day," she said. "And didn't know what was wrong with me."

For months doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her, trying to tell her it was psychological.

Then one day:

"I had never heard of Lyme disease, didn't know what it was," she said. "(I thought) You've got to be kidding me who does this, I'm a single mom, I'm about to lose everything."

"Thirty percent of people with Lyme disease actually remember getting bit by tick," Vanderwerp said.

Then she remembered the walks in the woods she used to take with her dogs.

"Finding a tick on black lab is like a finding a needle in haystack," Perri said.

A tree line can be the perfect habitat for a tick lying in wait for a meal. Experts say a tick will only eat three meals its entire life. If you unlucky enough to be one its meals - the effects of the bite can stay with you forever.

Experts say the blacklegged tick which carries Lyme disease, is mostly found in the west side of the state. But as the deer population explodes, so too, does the tick.

So when someone like Tina is diagnosed with the disease on the east side of Michigan, finding treatment was nearly impossible.

"It's not a joke or a fallacy we made up in our head."

She is now one a mission to make sure no one else is left behind.

" has petition for the CDC to educate doctors to get better testing to get insurance companies to approve medications and  to stop closing doors on us," Perri said. "And to start treating us like humans."

In the meantime if you find yourself with a tick bite, there is no reason to panic.

"If you find the tick and pull it off, within 24 to 48 hours after it attached and started feeding and you pull it off," Vanderwerp said. "The chances of you contracting the disease just plummet.

"The key is be aware that you are in a Lyme area and check for ticks afterwards."