Tick bite leaves Fayette County man weak, allergic to red meat

FAYETTE COUNTY, Tenn. — A Fayette County man has a warning for people going outside this summer after a bite from a lone star tick sent him to the hospital for two weeks last year.

Doctors told him he developed a bacterial illness and now has an allergy to red meat.

► Related: Red meat allergy transmitted by lone star ticks on the rise

“I mean we thought we were gonna lose him," said his wife, Linda Matheny. "It scared our children to death and by the Grace of God and lots of prayers, he came through it.”

The cause was a bite from the lone star tick that Charles discovered on his leg after cutting his grass. Shortly after the bite Charles started feeling feverish, but waited a few days to tell Linda.

"I took the thermometer and it was 103," she said, "So we went to the emergency room and they admitted him and we told them about the tick bite and they started running all kinds of tests.”

But they couldn’t find an answer until they sent his blood work away.

"On the 12th day they came in there and told us what it was, from the lone star tick, and it was called Ehrlichiosis, which we had never heard of. "

After a change in antibiotics and more IVs, Charles was on the mend. But he was already battling Parkinson's, which did not make this fight any easier.

Today he's feeling a little better.

"My legs are weak, my arms are weak and I’m having a little trouble with my voice," he said.

He can no longer eat red meat, which scientists say could be from a sugar passed from the tick into the blood stream that is also found in red meat.

As you’re out and about this summer the Mathenys want you to make sure you take precautions and protect yourself.