Ozarks man dealing with serious tick disease known as ehrlichiosis

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. On Tuesday KY3's "On Your Side" reporter Ashley Reynolds told viewers about the best insect and tick repellents available on the market as the weather gets warmer and more people head into the great outdoors.

Well, a family from Ozark wants you to make sure you protect yourself because they have a cautionary tale about what can happen.

Jim Moore is an active 76 year-old who has run marathons and volunteered for a number of organizations but today you'll find him bedridden at Mercy hospital slowly recovering from an illness that almost took his life.

"It's been a very strange and difficult experience," said Jim's wife Linda. "We started out being diagnosed with sinusitis (a type of sinus inflammation). Two days later I brought him to the hospital having difficulty breathing with the chills and fever."

It turns out that Jim has ehrlichiosis (pronounced er-lick'-e-osis), a bacterial illness transmitted by ticks that causes flu-like symptoms. It's not as well known as lyme disease but it's more prominent in our area.

"Ehrlichiosis is most commonly found in the midwest and south," explained Dr. Blessy John, an infectious disease specialist with Mercy. "Lyme disease is mostly in the east coast and the west. Besides the symptoms of fever and chills some patients may also complain of joint pains, muscle aches, and headaches."

Since his hospitalization, Jim has had to deal with several complications.

"It's affected his kidneys, his lungs, his breathing has been very difficult," Linda said. "He's had to have a tracheotomy."

Jim was too weak from his tracheotomy and dialysis to be interviewed and it's been a scary time for Jim's wife, Linda, dealing with her husband's sudden illness.

"It's made me appreciate my husband even more and the strong man that he is," she said with a smile. "But just seeing him in a weakened state has been very emotional."

Although she has no idea when her husband got the tick bites, she's glad they sought treatment in time because at one point during the critical early days she got some ominous news from the doctor.

"They told me to call the children," she said.

"These symptoms can last for weeks to months," Dr. John said. "So unless it is tested and treated patients are going to continue to feel the same. If you're unsure of how long a tick has been attached to you it's always safe to go ahead and get yourself tested."

Despite his serious situation, Jim has retained his sense of humor.

After watching Ashley Reynolds "On Your Side" report Tuesday night on KY3 about the need to protect yourself from insect and tick bites he uttered some words of wisdom.

"He said, 'they should make Frontline for humans,'" Linda said about the flea and tick medicine for pets. "We could put it on the back of his neck like we do the dogs and cats."