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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says a new report finds that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease.

That new estimate is 10 times higher than the yearly reported number.

Now a Midlands Lyme disease survivor is hoping the new numbers will increase people awareness of the tick-borne illness that she contracted over thirty years ago.

"I had a small tick bite and didn't know what it meant, but it did have the bullseye rash, a little small rash and the tick was only on me for about four, five, or six hours at the most," said Carol Black of Columbia.

Black says she didn't think much of the tick bite that she had in the late 70s or early 80s, until years later when her dad was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Black said, "My daughter and I recognized the Lyme symptoms in my father and when we looked into it for him, I realized I had it too."

She says the virus remained dormant for many years and when her symptoms began, they were not very obvious.

According to Black, "With me it was very subtle, just little things like my legs would feel real weak if I were working in the yard and I would go to stand up, sore throat, my eyes changed, ringing in my ears, sinus infections from time to time, nothing major."

Black was diagnosed with disease in 1992, her father and later her grandson contracted the disease as well, now she hopes to prevent other families from dealing with this illness that has impacted her family.

"Just be extra careful, it is good to wear light-colored clothes, because you can see a tick climbing on your clothes," said Black.

"The most important thing is to tuck your pants into your socks, that way the ticks can't get to your skin at the lower level of the leg," according to Black.

Finally, she says if you do find an attached tick, you need to remove it very carefully.

She said, "Get tweezers right against the skin and just grasp the mouth part and pull, do not squeeze or put any foreign substance on it."

The CDC also recommends wearing insect repellent and avoid wooded areas with high grass.

If you are bitten by a tick and show have any symptoms - even if they disappear, you should still see a doctor immediately.

For more information on Lyme disease in South Carolina visit http://www.sc-lyme.com/

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