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March 1, 2017

CDC Confirms First Cases of Lyme Disease in Arkansas in a Decade

SPRINGDALE, Ark.- - New developments surrounding for Lyme disease in the natural state.

There are now two confirmed cases in Arkansas after a decade with no reports to the CDC.

Fox 24 spoke to a woman today who was denied treatment, and had to go out of state, because doctors claimed Lyme disease didn't exist in Arkansas.

"I want Arkansas to claim that we have it here, because we do, and people need to know that stuff," Alarie Bowerman said.

After a long battle with the Arkansas Department of Health and the CDC, Bowerman is finally getting the justice she's been looking for. 

Bowerman's two daughters have officially been confirmed with Lyme disease they contracted in Benton County.

"Last May all three girls got bit, we learned at that time that our state is a state that doesn't acknowledge that we have Lyme disease here, so there are no specialists in our state. We had to go out of state," Bowerman said.

The state said Lyme disease didn't exist in Arkansas since no cases have been confirmed since 2007. 

It is recognized in several nearby states -- and if a person was diagnosed with Lyme disease, doctors previously said it had to originate out of state. 

Dr. Naveen Patil with the Arkansas Department of Health Infectious Disease Program, told Fox 24 in a prior interview that we don't have Lyme disease in Arkansas.

“We have the ticks that transmit Lyme disease but we don't have any recorded cases of Lyme disease," Dr. Patil said.

But now the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health are changing their tune.

Arkansas’ State Epidemiologist Dirk Haselow said guidelines are changing for Lyme disease in Arkansas.

“We evaluate every case and for a period of time, and I can't explain why, but we went seven years without a case or eight years now, but this year we have identified two cases that met that definition," Dr. Haselow said.

Bowerman still thinks doctors are hesitant to go all in and admit that Arkansas has a moderate incident of Lyme disease here.

“I think that once we're going through--You know the CDC is supposed to make a visit and in the next couple of weeks and when they do they are supposed to go through and look at all the cases and refile and see if they missed anything, so I'm hoping that this is a step in the right direction," Bowerman said.

She was told that in the next couple of weeks ADH will update its website and change its language to include reports of Lyme disease in Arkansas.

Reference and video:

CDC Confirms First Cases of Lyme Disease in Arkansas in a Decade: News
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