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N.C. Swimmer Dies From Tick Bite

May 29, 2003

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) _ A University of North Carolina swimmer from Florida has died after being bitten by a tick that gave her Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Andrea Erben, 19, of Panama City, died from the disease Tuesday at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital, said her father, Steve Erben.

``She didn’t know she had it,″ he said Wednesday. ``Initially, she was diagnosed with the flu at Chapel Hill (N.C.).″

Between 500 to 1,000 people across the nation get Rocky Mountain spotted fever every year and it causes 10 to 20 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although first discovered in the Rocky Mountain area it occurs in most parts of the country.

Erben said his daughter went to Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City when she came home from college and was taken to Birmingham on May 17, where she remained until her death.

She earned Scholastic All-America honors her senior year at Bay High School and was a member of the National Honor Society. She walked on to the swimming team at North Carolina and qualified for the varsity as a sophomore.

Andrea Erben was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and lived in the Middle East until she was 14.

A Celebration of Life service is set for Saturday at Messiah Lutheran Church in Panama City. Contributions instead of flowers can be made to the Swimming Scholarship Fund at the University of North Carolina.

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