LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A local reverend who spreads the gospel every Sunday at Hursbourne Christian Church is now spreading the word about Lyme disease.
New national numbers show it’s more common than thought, but it’s hard to get diagnosed with it in Kentucky.
Reverend Michael Gatton lives on 16 acres in Jeffersontown and prides himself on taking care of the land.
It was while mowing he was bitten not once, but twice by ticks.
They were tiny deer ticks, about the size of a poppy seed.
On that second bite, he took a picture.
He decided to document the bite because getting a diagnosis for Lyme disease was so difficult.
After the first and second bites he had all the symptoms, fever, aches and extreme pain. He even had to sit while delivering his sermons.
His family doctor suggested Lyme disease, even antibiotics but not enough of them to deter it.
But, infectious disease doctors in Kentucky told him the disease doesn't exist in this state, because the ticks that carry it aren't found in Kentucky.
Doctors suggested 8 different diseases, including that he was delusional, that was until he got confirmation from a doctor in Indiana.
She confirmed he had Lyme disease and that it had spread through his entire body.
Gatton had the proof he needed and now he's trying to prove to doctors it is here in Kentucky. He's collecting ticks, even sending them off to be tested.
The CDC says it doesn’t exist in Kentucky, but when we contacted the state, health officials said the tick carrying the bacteria was making its way into Kentucky.
They say it may be rare, but it's here.
Gatton, along with two other women with Lyme disease, have now started a support group at his church.
They're raising awareness for a disease they say is very real, and very painful.
Click here for more information on Lyme disease and support