‘I’m lucky I caught it early’: Tennessee man diagnosed with rare dual tick diseases

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WHITE HOUSE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A rare dual diagnosis of tick diseases for one Tennessee man, who says he is now battling both Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.

Don Murry Grubbs says he was hiking in the tree line on his property in White House when he had been bit but didn’t realize for nearly two weeks something was wrong.


Tick season in Tennessee: What you need to know

“I found a spot on my inner thigh, and I thought, you know, it’s an ingrown hair,” Grubbs told News 2.

Don Murry Grubbs of White House is now battling both Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. (WKRN)

What started small began to swell, and around two weeks later a rash appeared all over his legs.

“I tell people it looked like legs from The Walking Dead, my calves and my ankles were totally covered,” Grubbs explained.


MORE: More ticks means an increased risk of tick-borne illnesses

His doctor sent off his bloodwork.

“And my luck, it tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme, so I got a dual diagnosis.”

“I’ve been healthy as a horse my whole life, and something that small can do that much damage, it’s crazy.”

Don Murry Grubbs

Doctors say it’s a rare diagnosis as the two different diseases are caused by two different types of ticks. They add that it’s even more rare that someone in Tennessee is diagnosed with Lyme disease, as it is difficult to diagnose.

“Luckily, I caught both of them really early so the prognosis for me is good, but a lot of folks with the Lyme disease, they have it and they carry it months, sometimes even years, and they never even know it, and then they’ve got chronic fatigue going on and then all these symptoms,” said Grubbs.


SEE ALSO: How to keep summer bugs off your patio

The Tennessee Department of Health reports an average of about two-dozen Lyme disease cases a year across the state. Grubbs is on antibiotics and recovering, but is still suffering from fatigue and brain fog.

“The brain fog is what’s really strange. It clouds your thoughts; you know you feel like you are always in a haze, but that seems to be subsiding.”

He is just thankful the diseases were caught early on, as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be fatal.


MORE: Tennessee, 4 other states account for over 60 percent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever

“I’ve been healthy as a horse my whole life, and something that small can do that much damage, it’s crazy,” Grubbs proclaimed.

He hopes sharing his story will encourage others to use caution while outside, spray tick repellent and check themselves closely for ticks.

Tennessee is expecting an abundance of the blood suckers this season, due to a mild winter.

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