Lyme disease: bad facial paralysis from a tick bite?

Wrong diagnosis: face of a British woman disfigured by Lyme disease

Health experts repeatedly point out how important it is to protect yourself from ticks when you are out in nature. After all, the little crawling animals can transmit dangerous diseases. Unfortunately, such diseases are not always diagnosed correctly. This is also shown by a case from Great Britain: the face of a triple mother was severely disfigured after a tick bite.

Diseases with serious consequences

If you are out in nature in the spring and summer months, you can expect to be bitten by ticks. The small bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous infectious diseases such as early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) or Lyme disease. In some cases, the diseases can have serious consequences. So also with a woman from Great Britain, whose face was paralyzed after a tick bite.

Bitten by a tick three years ago

According to a BBC report, a woman from Wales suffered severe facial paralysis after a tick bite. The mother of three could only feed on a straw for a long time.

The 43-year-old Rachel Foulkes-Davies from Llanarmon-yn-Ial, Denbighshire, was bitten by a tick in her garden in June 2015.

The mother of three explained that the bite was visible as a small red mark on her neck. It grew bigger and white after a while.

So when the woman went to the hospital, the doctors diagnosed facial paralysis and sent the patient home with an eye bandage.

Nutrition through a straw

But her condition did not improve, on the contrary: "Over the course of seven to eight months, my ability to speak deteriorated," said the 43-year-old.

"I couldn't talk for two years. I only lived on soups and stews and had to drink them through a straw. The same was true for hot drinks. "

Eventually Ms. Foulkes-Davies paid for further tests herself and was diagnosed with Lyme disease caused by a tick bite.

The most common tick-borne disease

Experts say that Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Europe. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), between five and 35 percent of ticks are infected with Borrelia, the bacterial pathogen of Lyme disease.

In humans, the disease often begins symptomatically with the so-called wandering redness (erythema migrans) around the tick bite.

Other symptoms can include fever, muscle and headache. Fatigue and blurred vision are also often described. Some complaints can only appear after months.

In the worst case, chronic neurological disease can also lead to paralysis.

The disease should be treated with antibiotics as early as possible. However, according to doctors, the diagnosis is often difficult, especially if there is no reddening.

Early diagnosis would have saved the patient a lot of suffering

Ms. Foulkes-Davies told the BBC: "If the disease had been diagnosed immediately and treated with doxycycline, I wouldn't have had to go through all of this."

Now, three years later, she is still in pain and suffering from chronic fatigue: "I am constantly tired and have no energy to do simple tasks."

She was angry that the correct diagnosis was not made earlier: "I was very healthy before the bite."

A spokesman for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said that he could not comment on individual cases "in every detail", but added: "We would encourage anyone who has concerns about care to contact us directly to do so to discuss."

And further: "In Wales and elsewhere in the UK, cases of laboratory-confirmed Lyme disease have increased in recent years."

This is the result of better reporting, increased diagnostic tests and increased awareness among the general public and health professionals. (ad)

Author and source information

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