Daughter and Mother Warn: Beware of Tick-Borne Diseases

Claire’s Story
Claire and Sarah Maxwell

I was a competitive athlete and an excellent student. Then, I was bitten by a tick.

I was extremely ill for the next two years. My parents took me to every specialist they could find. A local allergist was the only doctor who seemed determined to help. She said, “Give me your entire medical history. We’ll figure this out.” That was the first time we felt hope.

A trip to a specialist in New York confirmed her suspicion of Lyme disease.

These were my symptoms: intermittent fevers, excruciating back and neck pain, headaches, extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate, anxiety, vertigo, vomiting, and a multitude of other bizarre symptoms.

Lyme Basics

Lyme disease is often used as a catch-all phrase for a host of tick-borne illnesses, such as Ehrlichiosis, that can make a person extremely ill.

Unfortunately, testing for Lyme disease is not reliable.

Numerous Park Cities and North Texas families have contacted us with stories similar to ours. The fall is when we receive the most calls.

A common theme is a happy, energetic child with no history of mental illness or disease who returns from camp, seemingly withdrawn, sleeping all day, and suffering from headaches, flu-like symptoms, and often, anxiety or depression.

Many people do not remember a tick bite and a rash is not always present after a bite.

As ambassadors for the Global Lyme Alliance, we give presentations and educate Texans about Lyme disease.

Tick-borne diseases are present in all 50 states.  Research on patient experiences and tick bite reports is being conducted at the University of Texas at Dallas to support our work on Lyme in non-endemic states.

We want every Texas family to know that ticks in Texas carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be deadly.

A Few Tips

What should you do to avoid getting sick?

If you work outdoors, hike, garden, play sports, or attend camp, you are at risk. Check for ticks and call your doctor immediately if you have a circular rash or a tick bite. Please save the tick and send it for testing.

Be AWARE! AVOID ticks. WEAR light-colored clothing. APPLY repellent. REMOVE ticks and keep for testing. EXAMINE yourself, children, and pets for ticks.

Visit globallymealliance.org to learn more.

Thanks to the dedicated faculty, administrators, counselors, and homebound teachers at Highland Park High School, Claire attends the Cox School of Business at SMU this fall. Dr. Maxwell is a professor and assistant provost at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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