Long Island Boy Diagnosed With Rare Strain of Lyme Disease

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A rare strain of the disease has turned up on Long Island that can cause anxiety in children. Danielle Elias reports. (Published Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014)

    A Long Island boy has been diagnosed with a rare strain of Lyme disease after playing in a wooded area with friends recently, and one Suffolk County doctor says the disease seems to be infecting people at an alarming rate this summer.

    The 13-year-old boy began to get sick two weeks after he was bitten by the bug, suffering a fever and "excruciating" headaches, according to his mother Christine Brennan.

    Dr. Nadia Persheff, a pediatrician at Hampton Pediatrics, said the symptoms of the rare strain of Lyme disease, Borrelia Miyamoto, are different, and can include anxiety for children.

    Persheff said she's treating people infected by Lyme disease at a concerning rate. In the past, she would get cases weekly, but she now says she sees patients infected by Lyme disease almost daily.

    "This year has been extremely overwhelming with Lyme as opposed to the past. We've never seen this much Lyme before," said Persheff.

    Elva Guerra recently brought her 2-year-old son Carlos to Persheff after she found a tick just below his knee, followed by a rash.

    "I thought I saw a new birthmark on his knee, but it was really a tick," said Elva Guerra.

    Carlos was too young to realize what had happened to him, but his mother did.

    "Reading how it affects the nervous system sometimes and how the joints get swollen, and to think that our son, who's only 2 years old, was going to go through that, it's really, really scary," said Guerra.

    Persheff said both strains of Lyme disease are curable, if treated properly with antibiotics.

    Hundreds of cases of tick-borne illnesses are reported every year across New York.

    A doctor with the Suffolk County Health Department said there are typically three kinds of ticks found in the northeast, and are typically in areas of high vegetation like grass and trees.

    He warns the public that if you do venture out in these areas, considered "tick territories," it is best to wear long pants, tuck the pants into socks and wear repellent.