Archived Story

A mother warns about a silent predator

Published 7:42am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

VINA – Now that school is out for the summer, many parents send their children outside to enjoy the sunshine and to get that ever-needed exercise each day.

But, while we are sending our children outdoors, we need to be aware of a silent predator.

This small predator is a tick, and while we often consider ticks as harmless, this is not the case, officials said.

Ticks can carry lyme disease, an illness that can lead to death if left untreated.

Kim Davidson, of Vina, didn’t really think much about it when her son, Matt, started complaining of leg cramps toward the end of last summer. Little did she know the cramps were the first sign of lyme disease.

“I just thought he was growing,” Davidson said. “I really didn’t think much of it until time had passed and the symptoms got worse instead of better.”

It was last October before Matt would receive a proper diagnosis.

“Lyme disease is something that you can’t find unless you are specifically looking for it,” Davidson said. “There is a test for the marker for it, but sometimes, the test is wrong.”

In Matt’s case, the test was wrong.

“I kept asking if he could have lyme disease, but the doctor kept saying ‘no’,” Davidson said.

“Finally, we got another doctor to do a second test, and it was found.”

Davidson said lyme disease is the kind of disease that multiplies every few days so by the time Matt was properly diagnosed, they were informed that he would be treated with antibiotics for months.

“It’s not something you can get rid of with just a round or so of antibiotics. It takes time to kill the disease and it’s a very painful process,” Davidson said.

Matt has been homebound since October because his illness has made it impossible to attend school, play sports and participate in his usual activities.

“He has his good days and his bad days,” Davidson said. “On his good days, you can’t tell there is anything wrong with him, but on his bad days, the pain is difficult for him to tolerate, and his energy plummets. I try to let him be a kid during his good days.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, lyme disease begins with a rash, and is followed by lack of energy, fever, headache and stiff neck, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.  The early infection takes one to four weeks to become severe so many times patients don’t realize they are sick until the infection has spread.

If left untreated, the disease can cause muscle weakness, fainting, recurring headaches, paralysis of the facial nerves, pinkeye, and occasional rapid heartbeats.

“He could have lasting affects from this disease, but we won’t know if he will or how severe the affects will be until he’s through with the treatment,” Davidson said.

Davidson said she wants everyone to be aware that this disease is a real threat and that steps should be made to prevent it.

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent lyme disease it to stay away from areas where they live.

Ticks prefer wooded and bushy areas with high grass and a lot of leaf litter. These are areas to avoid.

Take extra precautions in May, June, and July. This is when ticks that transmit lyme disease are most active.

If you do enter a tick area, walk in the center of the trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter.

If you are going to be in these areas, insect repellant should be used.

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