VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Scientists say nearly half of Gulf Coast ticks in Hampton Roads are carrying a new disease.
Jessica Crosley, 13, is one of only 15 reported cases of the disease in the U.S. She says she was in excruciating pain and experienced chills and a fever during 100-degree temperatures.
"I would scream it was so bad," Crosley said. "I've never been in any pain like that. I couldn't walk. Anything I ate I threw up."
Crosley told her mother she found a tiny black bug while showering.
"I had never seen a tick before in my life, so I just kind of ripped it off and it was like a lady bug" Crosley said.
Crosley and her mother found a white spot that over the days turned into a large black lesion.
"It looks a lot like a disease some are familiar with called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,"Infectious disease expert Dr. Randall Fisher at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters said.
Crosley is only the second person ever to be seen with it at CHKD.
"The difference is where the tick bites, you end up getting a little black spot of skin that eventually breaks away and leaves a shallow ulcer," Fisher said.
The disease was first discovered here in Tidewater and is carried by the Gulf Coast tick. Scientists at Old Dominion University discovered nearly half of the Gulf Coast ticks in Hampton Roads carry it and issued a report to the government in 2011. The Center for Disease Control now lists it as an emerging disease.
"The good news about Tidewater Spotted Fever is that it's actually a less severe disease than Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It has a much better prognosis," Fisher said.
Crosley took antibiotics for two weeks and is now recuperating. Doctors believe there will be no long-term effects.
Fisher told 10 On Your Side the best way to protect yourself is to avoid a bite by using a repellent. If you do have a tick on your body, slowly remove it using a pair of tweezers.
Green Run High School was placed on lockdown as a precaution Wednesday morning after a report of a robbery attempt nearby.
One of two remaining 19th-century clipper ships in the world is in Norfolk this week.
Detectives are investigating a homicide that occurred in the East End of Newport News Tuesday night.