Utah woman shares battle with Lyme Disease 25 years after suffering tick bite

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SALT LAKE CITY — May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and on Wednesday Fox 13 spoke with a woman named Mae who says Utahns need to be extra aware.

"When I was 14 or 15 I was bit by a tick. I remember it vividly," said Mae Hawes, of Springville.

Hawes said she never would have believed 25 years later she would be hooked up to machines in the hospital, in a battle against Lyme Disease.

"I don't feel like people know here in Utah the seriousness of Lyme Disease and that it can happen here, it does happen here," said Hawes.

Hawes struggled with a number of health issues for years and wasn't quite sure what was wrong, until she was officially diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2015.

"In the back of my mind I thought I had a tumor or something like that, MS," said Hawes. "Extreme muscle aches, extreme fatigue, extreme migraines, things like that."

What has been most painful for Mae is that she passed along the disease, through her genes, to her seven-year-old daughter. That's why video, that Fox 13 aired on Tuesday, of an Oregon girl with Lyme disease, touched Mae so personally.

"I have myself videotaped my daughter for documentation of her not being able to walk, having a hard time climbing stairs, walking downstairs," said Hawes.

Dr. Victoria Sucher, of Blue Flower Medical Clinic, has been studying Lyme Disease her entire career. She treats about 20 new cases each month.

"We have actually been having more of the black legged tick infecting more patients here in Utah," said Dr. Sucher.

Dr. Sucher said if you are bitten by a tick you should immediately see a doctor and save the tick for testing if you can.

"We can only cure this disease in the acute stage meaning the first six to eight months, past six to eight months it's chronic," said Dr. Sucher.  "I'm not going to get rid of it, you are going to have this forever."

The CDC reports that about 300,000 Americans every year are infected with Lyme Disease, making it the fastest growing insect born illness in the country.