17-Year-Old Boy Dies of Heart Infection From Tick Bite

June 25, 2019 Updated: June 25, 2019

A 17-year-old New York teen died of a tick bite that he didn’t know he had, according to a new report.

Joseph Elone spent a month in the woods while part of fellowship about a week before he died in 2013, reported Medium on June 24.

Elone had a tick on him, but he didn’t know about it. Doctors only learned that he died from Lyme carditis, a rare complication that comes from tick bites.

After coming back from the trip, he developed a low-grade fever, achiness, fatigue gastrointestinal symptoms, cough, and a sore throat. Doctors thought he was suffering from a cold.

Later, when he became sensitive to light and light-headed, he went back to the doctor, who said that he tested negative for Lyme disease, which is carried by several types of North American ticks.

When his mother took him to the pharmacy a few days later, he collapsed on his way back to the house. He was rushed to a hospital and died the next morning, the report noted.

Medical examiners discovered that he suffered from Lyme spirochete in Joseph’s lungs, liver, brain, and in his heart. The report noted that it took at least four months and several incorrect diagnoses to figure out the cause of his death.

“It just seemed like he had a cold or something, or a little fever, but nothing crazy,” his brother, Emmanuel, recalled in the Medium article. “It wasn’t something that you would take seriously in the moment.”

According to the report, at least nine people have died from the heart infection in the United States.

“I think they are underreported,” said Renu Virmani, who is cardiac pathologist who has studied Lyme carditis deaths and runs a cardiac research organization in Maryland, according to Medium.

She added: “Nobody thinks of doing that until after you made the diagnosis.” “It’s very unusual for a medical examiner to make the diagnosis of Lyme disease. Very unusual. And I’m sure there are people who die of Lyme disease.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Lyme carditis occurs when Lyme disease bacteria enter the tissues of the heart. This can interfere with the normal movement of electrical signals from the heart’s upper to lower chambers, a process that coordinates the beating of the heart. The result is something physicians call “heart block,” which can be mild, moderate, or severe. Heart block from Lyme carditis can progress rapidly.”

The agency added that the condition occurs in about 1 percent of Lyme disease cases in the United States.

Boy Almost Dies of Another Tick-Borne Disease

A 2-year-old boy reportedly slipped into a coma after catching Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can be carried by ticks.

Kentucky mother Kayla Oblisk said her son, Jackson, contracted the rare illness after the tick bite, WHAS-TV reported.

“They just pulled it off and moved right on,” Oblisk told the news outlet on May 31. “We didn’t think anything else of it at that point.”

She said the family didn’t worry about it, but they then noticed Jackson began suffering from a fever.

Later, the boy began to develop pink spots all over his body, and Oblisk then took him to a doctor, according to the report.

“My kid wouldn’t get up, he wouldn’t eat he wouldn’t drink, he was running a 105 degree fever,” she told the station. “We couldn’t get him to do anything, if you touched him he screamed.”