During a recent interview with Today, Jamie Simoson discussed how her son, Jonny, was diagnosed with a rare condition called Powassan virus, after receiving a tick bite and spending weeks in the hospital.
“I called my husband and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. The whole time it was that stupid little tick. I knew it,’” she said. “I Googled it and I was like, what the heck is this? What are the chances?”
According to the the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is “spread to people by the bite of an infected tick,” with most US cases occurring “in the northeast and Great Lakes regions from late spring through mid-fall when ticks are most active”.
The publication also noted that some of the initial symptoms can “include fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness” with severe symptoms including “confusion, loss of coordination, and difficulty speaking”.
Regarding when the incident happened, Jamie noted that her son received the tick bite on 15 June at a pool party and quickly had it removed. However, she went on to explain that two weeks after receiving the bite, her son was “not acting himself”, before he developed a fever of 104.3 and was rushed to an emergency room.
“At this point, I’m falling apart at the seams,” she said. “I was adamant every single time we talked to someone that he was bitten by a tick… but he was negative for Lyme disease.”
After being admitted to the hospital, Jamie and her husband went on to describe 2 July as “the absolute worst day,” since their son’s heart rate had slowed down and doctors were concerned about his mental health.
â”When they took him for the CT scan, we absolutely did not think that we were coming back with our son,” she added.
Once he received an MRI, he was diagnosed with Meningitis, which is an infection of “the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord,” as noted by (CDC), and was given a treatment to alleviate his symptoms. However, it wasn’t until a few days later that his test came back positive for Powassan virus.
Regarding Jonny’s progress now, after having some trouble balancing, Jamie said that he’s now begun walking and swimming on his own.
However, she also acknowledged that he’s having issues with his speech and experiencing weakness to the left-side of his body, which she’s hoping will get better down the line.
“We’re optimistic that it will improve with time,” she said. “Unfortunately, we just don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. It’s so rare and there’s so little research done on it, I don’t think we can answer those questions, which is terrifying.”
She went on to emphasise that she’s now encouraging parents to “advocate” for their children and “push for answers,” especially when it comes to their health.
“Most importantly, advocate for your kids,” she added. “If you feel like something is not right, you need to push for answers. The first time we saw the paediatrician, they said it’s viral… it’s got to run its course. Luckily for Jonathan, we were adamant that something else was wrong.”
A Facebook page run by Jamie has also been developed, with the account sharing details about Jonny’s diagnosis and how he’s improved since leaving the hospital.