An Ontario woman is urging Canadians to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of tick bites and Lyme disease, after her five-year-old child got Lyme disease and meningitis, thought to have come from an Ottawa tick. Her son, who was misdiagnosed by doctors multiple times, ended up hospitalized, using a heart monitor and an IV antibiotics pump, all because of a small tick carrying the disease.
It took Mandy Green and her son, Chase, multiple doctor and hospital visits before the five-year-old boy was correctly diagnosed with early disseminated Lyme disease with meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain. In fact, by the time Chase had a correct diagnosis, he was in serious pain. Chase was forced to undergo surgery to insert a catheter into his chest to enable him to receive antibiotics intravenously, and, following this terrifying experience, Mandy is calling on others to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
This comes only weeks after Ottawa Public Health warned residents of the capital city to take extra precautions when out-and-about, as Ottawa is understood to be an ‘at-risk’ area for Lyme disease.
According to Health Canada, there are a number of symptoms to be aware of with regard to Lyme disease. In particular, people should look out for a “bull’s-eye rash,” which looks like a red spot with a circle around it. These can be on any part of the body, and there can be just one or numerous spots. The rash is often, but not always, accompanied by fever, extreme tiredness, feeling weak or achey and swollen lymph nodes.
While many people who contract Lyme disease are able to fight it without treatment, for others there can be scary complications if there's no medical intervention.
For those with untreated Lyme disease, symptoms can include severe headaches, facial paralysis, arthritis and more. Acute Lyme disease can also lead to neurological disorders, which is how Chase ended up with meningitis.
According to Dr. Jason Brophy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, the form of meningitis associated with Lyme disease may occur several weeks after a tick bite. Therefore it is important to remain vigilant if you’re feeling unwell from a suspected bite.
While it is important to know the signs of Lyme disease, the best form of protection is prevention. Experts recommend that the best way to avoid ticks altogether is to wear long clothing, with pants tucked into socks and shoes. Ontarians are also advised to wear a strong insect repellent that contains Deet or Picaridin, which will prevent ticks from attaching to your skin.
Ticks tend to hang out in wooded and grassy areas, so sticking to public paths is safest. When you get home from being outdoors, you should check your body for ticks, searching in hard-to-reach areas like armpits, your groin, behind the knees, and between the toes.
While Chase will make a full recovery, Mandy wants all Canadians to be more aware of ticks, and to recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease when they appear. In a Facebook post, Mandy warned others to check themselves for ticks, noting that they never found the tick that infected Chase. She concluded the post by saying, “Listen to your gut, get second opinions, advocate for yourself and your children."