This recent article was posted by the Columbus Telegram and discusses two very serious illnesses caused by tick bites. Please take precautions when spending time outside during the summer moths.
“Growing up loving the outdoors and riding horses, Cady Stortzum learned to carefully conduct a nightly tick inspection on herself before bed.
Discovering one of the arachnids latched on to her skin – like she did one night in early April – was nothing new. But this bite was different than others. Several days later, the 14-year-old developed a tender bump on the back of her neck. Her mother Susan, a registered nurse at Columbus Community Hospital, simply dismissed it as an infected hair.
On April 14, Cady called home from a state FCCLA competition in Lincoln, complaining of being unusually weak and tired, while mentioning she had another bump on her neck.
“I didn’t put two and two together,” Susan said, dismissing it yet again as another infected hair or her daughter coming down with the flu. When Cady returned from the competition, she moved her neck as if it was restricted by a brace and was in excruciating pain.
“She would cry all night and just sit there,” Susan said. “She would have good days and bad days. She would act like she was better but then she would just go downhill.” There were days when she could go to school, run in track meets and ride her horse, but there were other days when she couldn’t even move. By the third week in April, Cady had six bumps running from her neck to her head. For Susan, this was more than enough to warrant a trip to the doctor. “As a nurse, I try to treat as much as I can at home but this was beyond me,” Susan said.
Cady’s condition baffled her family doctor in St. Edward and an ear, nose and throat specialist in Grand Island. Cady was testing negative for both mononucleosis and Lyme disease. The girl was sent home with some general antibiotics, which seemed to only make things worse as she spiked a 103-degree fever. Cady was so weak she couldn’t even walk. “She was so physically tired and sick, but yet nothing was wrong with her,” Susan said. “So I took her back in. As a mom and a nurse, I’m her advocate, something is wrong with my baby. We needed results.”
On May 5, Susan brought Cady back to the Grand Island specialist, who took four biopsies from the lumps. “Once they were biopsied, she went way downhill. It’s like it aggravated everything,” Susan said. When the results came back, the bumps had spread to her chest.
“(The specialist) said he didn’t know what it was, but she needed to go to Methodist Children’s Hospital immediately,” Susan said.
She rushed Cady to Omaha on May 7. They were there only an hour before the diagnosis came. Cady had tularemia.
“The problem with this disease is kids get treated for a lot more common diseases before they remember their child had been bitten by a tick sometime before,” said Jessica Snowden, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious disease with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center who treated Cady.
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Cady is one of four tularemia cases confirmed in the state this year. Last year at this time, there were no cases, with only six reported during the entire year. “If you notice your kid has a fever without cold symptoms and you know they’ve been exposed to ticks, take them to the doctor and tell them your child was bitten by a tick,” Snowden said.
After being placed on pain medicine and stronger antibiotics, Cady began to slowly feel normal again. She was released from the hospital on Mother’s Day.
“They told us if we hadn’t brought her into the hospital that it very well could have been fatal,” Susan said.
Cady isn’t the only area girl recently inflicted with a disease carried by a tick.
It was the Sunday before Memorial Day when 5-year-old Sami Prorok of Humphrey finished a camping trip at Lake Babcock with her family.
On the ride home, Sami felt a tick on the back of her neck. Her father pulled it off and threw it out the window, not even thinking twice about it.
By Friday, the child became so sluggish she couldn’t move. Over the next two days, she started vomiting and became covered in what her parents, Jason and Sarah Prorok, thought was chickenpox.
She developed a fever and was taken to the doctor’s office, where she received a misdiagnosis of hand, foot and mouth disease.
A week later, after Sami couldn’t walk, her parents and grandparents rushed her to Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk.
“They had no idea what it was but they knew it wasn’t hand, foot and mouth. So they took her by ambulance to Omaha,” said Rhonda Thompson, Sami’s grandmother.
Within the first six hours of being at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Sami was seen by 20 doctors and immediately placed in intensive care.
After various types of testing, it was finally confirmed Sami contracted a disease from a tick bite, but it wasn’t Lyme disease or tularemia. It was Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which produces violent flu-like symptoms and a rash.
Sami is one of five reported cases of the disease in Nebraska this year. Last year, there were a total of 13 cases in the state.
“If you feel like you’ve been run over by a car and have been bitten by a tick, you may have Rocky Mountain fever,” Snowden said, saying it should go away after three days with proper antibiotics.
The best way to prevent tick-related diseases is to cover all exposed skin when going into woody areas, along with using bug repellent containing DEET and doing a full-body check afterward. If a tick is found, use tweezers to grab it as close to the skin as possible and pull it off. Watch for disease symptoms within the next week.
The most common ticks that carry these diseases are black with a white dot on the back, but Snowden said brown dog ticks can also be carriers.” If you need a pest control professional for tick control, contact A1 Exterminators at 800-525-4825 or for Cape Cod 800-499-5866 for your FREE estimate today.
Source: Published by the ColumbusTelegram.com (Columbus, NE), Sunday, May 31, 2015.