CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he’s extremely sick after attending events earlier this week. It is a possibility he may have Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness. Each year there are nearly 400,000 cases in the United States with West Virginia being one of the top five states.  

“There’s several ticks in the US, several ticks in West Virginia and there’s one or two in particular that can transmit Lyme disease,” Barbra Koster, Nurse Practitioner at West Virginia Health Right said.

The disease is transmitted when the tick becomes attached to your body for a period of time and then releases bacteria. That’s when symptoms start.

“The most common one being that they can develop a rash. The rash may or may not be present though to develop Lyme disease. The rash can take on a variety of forms it’s usually the redness around the site the tick has attached,” Koster said.

Other symptoms include fever, chills, body aches and muscle pain. More serious symptoms include neurological, heart and memory problems.  

On Wednesday, Justice sent out a statement saying “After the WV GameChanger events on Monday in Wheeling and Blacksville, I began feeling extremely sick. I immediately got tested for COVID-19 and was negative, but I am still having symptoms and nowhere near 100%. As of now, I am being treated for possible Lyme disease.”

Koster says people with Lyme disease are treated with antibiotics, but symptoms can last for years.

If you do think you’ve been bitten by a tick, seek your medical provider for testing and treatment – however, the best way not to get bit is by prevention.  

“They should take precautions as in wearing clothing to cover up arms and legs, having a hat on your head, wearing some sort of insect repellent. Once you’ve been outside in the woods or doing gardening work, coming in and immediately taking those clothes off and showering or bathing,” Koster said.

It has not been confirmed if Gov. Jim Justice has been tested for Lyme disease.