A family from Pennsylvania is thankful to their young son is alive, after he contracted a dangerous illness from a small tick bite.
Three-year-old Jonny Simoson was swimming in a friend’s pool on June 15th when he spotted something on his back. It was a tick.
3-Year-Old Boy Contracts Disease From Tiny Tick Bite
His mom, Jamie, was extra vigilant given that Jonny’s older sister had been diagnosed with Lyme disease three years earlier. She successfully removed the tick, which wasn’t embedded, without incident.
But then a few days later, a red bump appeared on the toddler’s back, and two weeks later, Jamie says, he began acting strange.
“He was mopey, had no appetite, and complaining of a headache,” Jamie wrote on Facebook.
The symptoms continued to worsen over the next couple of days, and the family took him to the doctor, who gave him some medication. That night, he awoke with a fever that rose to 104 degrees.
When his parents rushed him to the hospital, his white blood cell count had grown to 30,000.
A normal count for someone three or older is 5,000-10,000. Jonny had to be transferred to a specialty doctor.
“Things got really scary at that point,” Jamie told the New York Post. “It was so frustrating searching for an answer. We were terrified that we might not be coming home with our child.”
Jonny was unresponsive for days at that point. After an MRI, he was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis – an infection of both the brain and the thin tissue that surrounds it.
He had to undergo a treatment of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), which is an infusion of antibodies from healthy plasma donors through a vein in the arm.
Within 15 hours of his first dose, Jonny was awake and talking.
“It was amazing. That was the first time since the whole situation started that my husband and I both just completely broke down,” Jamie said.
He was released after 12 days in the hospital.
“Johnny was still not walking, and his balance was poor,” his mother said. “We knew we had a ton of work to do but were up for the challenge.”
Not long after he was discharged, the toddler tested positive for the Powassan virus, a dangerous tick-borne disease that affected just 194 people in the US between 2011 and 2020, according to the CDC.
“Since there are not a lot of confirmed cases, we are nervous about what his future might hold and the potential long-term effects, but overall pleased with his progress,” said Jamie.
However, the family says Jonny is recovering well, swimming again, and overall back to being his “crazy, fun self.”
Jamie says she hopes their story will help raise awareness for the disease.
“We want everyone to be aware of the real risks associated with tick-borne illnesses and be vigilant when it comes to prevention and symptom recognition,” she said. “A tiny tick could have taken our sweet boy from us. We are so lucky to be able to share his story.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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