Calla Judson was diagnosed with Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick in eastern Ontario. (Provided by Laura Judson)

Greater Victoria mom warns of tick bites after three-year-old daughter diagnosed with Lyme disease

Ticks are most likely to bite in the spring, from March to June

A Saanich Peninsula mom is speaking out about her family’s experience with ticks and Lyme disease in an effort to raise awareness of the issue as more families head outside and take advantage of forested areas while self-isolating.

When Laura Judson’s three-year-old daughter Calla started experiencing severe joint pain, along with getting a rash that began to spread all over her body after a trip to eastern Ontario, she knew something was wrong.

“One morning she woke up and tried to play with her big sister, and as soon as she stood on her feet she screamed out in pain and collapsed,” says Judson, recalling the most worrisome symptom she watched her daughter go through.

Finally, Judson and Calla went to the emergency room where they were able to see a pediatrician, who decided to get Calla tested for Lyme disease.

When the test results came back positive for the disease, Calla was put on antibiotics that Judson says dramatically helped her symptoms.

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“We got our girl back then,” says Judson. “Her energy came back, the headaches stopped, her rash and joint pain went away.”

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, ticks can be found year-round but are most likely to bite in the spring, from March to June. BCCDC also states that most ticks in the province prefer to get their blood meals from rodents and small animals, but occasionally one will bite a person accidentally. Most ticks that carry Lyme disease are found in southwestern B.C., including Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands reads the BCCDC website.

While Calla is still experiencing some symptoms such as fatigue — that can last weeks sometimes — and sensitivity to light, Judson says the family is still working on figuring out if those are connected to the disease.

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“Even at Christmas, we had a really softly lit tree and that was too much for her, she would unplug it,” says Judson.

According to the BCCDC, about 10 to 20 per cent of people with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics, which can include muscle and joint pain, cognitive defects, sleep disturbance or fatigue. Studies have shown that continuing antibiotic treatment is not helpful for these cases and can actually be harmful to people.

Judson wants other families to know the risks, as she never saw a tick on Calla.

“[The bite and bulls-eye rash] was on the front of her thigh and when she was bitten she wasn’t even three yet … and I helped her to the bathroom,” she says. “How could I have missed a tick right there in front of me?”

Judson says her biggest piece of advice to parents out there — besides making sure to check for ticks after going outside — is to keep a log of all your child’s symptoms. She began approaching her daughter’s illness like it was work, taking notes and photos to create reports that she would then take into her doctor’s appointments.

“I would quickly become emotional and be like she’s not herself. I know something is wrong and the doctor can’t do much with an emotionally charged person,” says Judson.

To read more on Lyme disease and ticks visit bit.ly/2WIIdlZ.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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