TOUCHED BY LYME: “Non-relevant” tick bite puts child in hospital


Morgan, a 4 year old hospitalized with Lyme disease

A mother’s posting on Facebook has gone viral. Here’s her story.

Gina Elizabeth, of southwest Pennsylvania, took her four-year-old daughter Morgan to her local hospital in June for what she described as “a mystery rash.”

She told the doctors the girl had been “bitten by a bug” about two weeks earlier. “They assured me that wasn’t relevant,” she writes.

The doctors diagnosed it as cellulitis, which is a bacterial skin infection. “Something in my gut said this wasn’t right,” Gina says. “They were wrong. They were incredibly wrong.”

The next day, the girl had a fever of 103 degrees, and Gina took her daughter to a different hospital.

Here, it was discovered that Morgan had a large bull’s-eye rash on her neck and other symptoms of Lyme disease. The new doctors put her on antibiotics immediately.


According to the Facebook post, the entire right side of Morgan’s face is paralyzed [from Bell’s palsy], making it hard for her to eat, chew and swallow.


She can’t drink from a straw or a cup and needs to use a spoon to drink liquid.

Her right eye doesn’t close completely and tends to dry out. She is extremely fatigued and highly sensitive to sound and light.

The mother adds the following warning:

“Please, please, PLEASE, spray your children, animals, and self before going outdoors. Don’t let this happen to your loved one.”

Recent reports say Pennsylvania has the highest number of Lyme cases in the whole country:

Why couldn’t the first doctors recognize Lyme when it was staring them in the face? Why would they dismiss the mother’s report of a recent bug bite as “irrelevant”? Why didn’t it even occur to somebody at the first hospital that Lyme was a real possibility?

Although the child is on antibiotics now, and I’m told, is resting at home, I hope the family will find a Lyme-literate doctor to evaluate her further. She should be checked out for possible co-infections–other nasty stuff that can be transmitted by the same tick bite that gave her Lyme.

Two Pennsylvania-based organizations may be able to give useful guidance for resources in their area:

PA Lyme Resource Network:

Lyme Disease Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania:

Take home messages from this story:

  • Protect yourself and your children from tick bites,
  • Don’t believe everything the doctors tell you,
  • And never underestimate the power of a mother’s gut feeling that something must be terribly wrong.

TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland,’s Vice-president and Director of Communications. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at .



There is no such thing as a “non-relevant” tick bite.  Treat ALL tick bites as seriously as a heart attack because we all know things go much better if it’s dealt with early, yet we continue to see this same lazy attitude from doctors, over and over and over again.

Shame on them.

Regarding Pennsylvania, this recently came out:  The current study details the conversion of western Pennsylvania from a Lyme-naïve to a Lyme-epidemic area, highlighting changes in clinical presentation and healthcare utilization as the epidemic evolved. Presenting symptoms and provider-type differed between those from rural and non-rural zip codes.

Obviously, Pennsylvania health care providers haven’t gotten the memo about their own state being endemic for Lyme.