Husband dies of disease caused by deer tick in Bucks County
Crissy Naticchia is still in shock. Her fun-loving husband Jeff died nearly two months ago from an infection spread by a tiny deer tick.
“It’s going to be a long, hard road ahead. I mean we had so much to do. He was only 50,” she said.
In late July, Jeff came down with a fever, sweating and fatigue. At the hospital, Crissy says it took several days for doctors to make the diagnosis. It was Babesiosis.
Doctor Neil Fishman with Penn Medicine didn’t treat Jeff, but he specializes in infectious diseases.
He says Babesiosis is transmitted by the same tick as Lyme disease.
Many people infected won’t have symptoms, but for others they will.
“The problem is the disease can get very severe if people don’t have a normal immune system,” Dr. Fishman said.
That includes people on chemotherapy, transplant recipients, elderly and anyone without a spleen.
Crissy says Jeff had his spleen removed as a child, but it never caused any problems.
“In 26 years, he’d been sick maybe twice,” she said.
Now she and their children Nicole and Max are hoping to raise awareness about Babesiosis.
It’s considered reportable, and tracked by many state health departments including, New Jersey and Delaware, but not Pennsylvania.
Doctor Fishman says it’s relatively rare in the state, but could be emerging.
“As you said we are seeing more and more Lyme disease in certain parts of the state, so we may start to see an increase in babesiosis,” he said.
Crissy added, “We live in Bucks County, across from a state park, there’s ticks everywhere. I want people to know, it’s not just Lyme. There’s other horrible diseases that are carried by ticks.”
The best prevention is insect repellent with DEET, long pants or sleeves, and to check your body for ticks after you’ve been outside in a park or in the
In the case of Babesiosis, if ticks are removed within 24 hours, they can’t transmit the disease. However, there are other tick-borne illnesses that can be spread faster. (Please read comment at end of article)
It’s always a good idea to consult with your physician if you have any concerns.
A couple of things: the lack of a spleen was this man’s undoing.Risk factors for severe disease include:
Do not have a spleen (up to 20% mortality)
Weak immune system (AIDS, corticosteroid therapy, malignancy with therapy, multiple stealth microbe infections at one time)
Elderly (>50 years old, especially with health problems)
The challenge with these studies, and there are many, is that most placed multiple ticks on multiple rodents. Multiple ticks may be transmitting different pathogens. It has also been shown that ticks feeding on mice coinfected with B. microti and B. burgdorferi were twice as likely to become infected with Bb compared to B. microti, suggesting that coinfection can amplify certain pathogens – which is another reason to only use one rodent and one pathogen to separate out multiplying factors that muddy the waters. Also, rarely do studies record the titer of both tick and host – again, making it nearly impossible to determine what’s what. It was also noted that transmission times are unknown for many pathogens.
**And as always: if you are the ONE person who contracted Lyme Disease in 10 minutes, all these numbers are essentially meaningless. The frightening truth is that these numbers, along with geographical information regarding tick habitats, are often used against patients. It is beyond time for doctors to listen, educate themselves, and treat patients with the respect they deserve – not to mention it’s time for them to treat patients clinically and not based on tests that are wrong over half the time and with the knowledge that ticks are spreading everywhere and bringing the pathogens with them. (In other words, throw the maps away!)
The review essentially gives the following transmission times for various pathogens. Again, please know these numbers are not definitive and many, many cases have proven this fact.
Take each and every tick bite seriously and don’t mess around and take a “wait and see approach.” There is too much at stake.