We all know that tick bites are disgusting and can lead to serious illness. We all know to look out for the bullseye rashes and be vigilant about our tick checks. But even with our current knowledge, the story of one mom from Oklahoma is one of the worst tick stories ever.
Mom of two Jo Rogers just thought she had the flu. When she hadn’t started getting better after five days, her family took her to the hospital.
“She was shaking her hands because they hurt, her feet hurt,” Rogers’ cousin Lisa Morgan said. “They tested her for West Nile virus and meningitis.”
Rogers’ Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection forced doctors to amputate her right leg and it only got worse. “(They had to amputate) below the knee of her left leg and below both elbows of her arms to save her life, to keep the infection from getting to her vital organs,” Morgan said.
It gets less press, but it’s just as dangerous as Lyme disease. Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a tickborne disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. It is spread by three different kinds of ticks — the American Dog Tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick. It starts with a fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. It could have a rash, but not always.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. There are antibiotics that can fight it, but if it is not caught early enough, it can lead to infection and even death. It’s enough to make you not want to go outside.
Rogers will live, but she will do so in a completely different way and all because of a tiny little tick. They are small, but they can do enormous damage. The best way to deal with ticks is, of course, prevention. Wear long sleeves. Be vigilant about tick checks. Use Deet (don’t even bother with the natural repellants). If you do get a tick, don’t panic. Call your doctor and they can best advise you how to proceed.
Ticks can do immeasurable damage. It is our job to protect ourselves.