HARVEYS LAKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s no secret that ticks are a big problem in Pennsylvania. Ticks are most commonly associated with the spread of Lyme disease. But the infection which ticks can cause goes deeper than that.
Ticks are also to blame for a rare virus that’s affecting a growing number of Americans. Among them, is a young boy from Luzerne County who is on the road to recovery weeks after a tick bit him.
Pediatric intensive care is the last place Jamie Simoson expected her 3-year-old son, Jonathan, to be this summer. But it’s where he ended up after being bitten by a tick.
“It came on all of a sudden. He was fine jumping in the pool, eating ice cream, and the next day he started complaining about a headache,” stated Jamie Simoson.
Tests determined the tick that bit Jonathan outside his home in late June transmitted the very rare Powassan virus which then triggered meningoencephalitis an inflammation or infection of the brain as well as the meninges which are the layers of thin tissue covering the brain.
“He had every test under the sun. CT scan, MRI, before we found out what was happening.” Hiller asks, “Were you worried you might not see your boy again leave the hospital?” Jamie says, “We were terrified.”
Jonathan spent nearly two weeks in the hospital recovering but still exhibiting the lingering effects of the Powassan virus.
“He came home not able to walk on his own,” Simoson said.
Thanks to therapy he has overcome that although still faces recovery hurdles.
“Right now we see some clear left side weaknesses when it comes to his leg and his arm. Cognitively, he’s just not where he was before,” explained Simoson.
But where he is now is something Jonathan’s mother could only hope for weeks earlier.
“Terribly scary and we are just incredibly fortunate,” Simoson expressed.
After the turmoil her family has experienced, Simoson is now advocating for all parents to pay extra attention to check their children for ticks.
“This one was incredibly tiny. It was right on his back shoulder blade. And what’s most important, it was not embedded. It was not engorged. What they said is that it may be had to be attached for 15 minutes,” stated Simoson.
It’s uncertain if Jonathan will make a full recovery although so far his progress is very encouraging.
His mom says he will be able to return to daycare in august or september. In the meantime, head to Healthy Children to learn more about the Powassan virus symptoms and the CDC website for tick safety.