TOUCHED BY LYME: Mystery illness turns out to be Bartonella
When Jason Sigmon was 13, he got bitten by a tick while helping his dad with yard work. Within a week or so, the North Carolina teen started experiencing excruciating headaches. Sometimes the pain was so bad he threw up. Pain medication didn’t help, and he was utterly incapacitated.
The family consulted a slew of doctors, who tested the boy for many things. The doctors ruled out Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections based on antibody tests. They ruled out brain tumor based on an MRI and other scans. When the doctors couldn’t put a finger on what was causing the problem, they called it “teenage migraines” and recommended specialized treatment in a hospital.
His mom, veterinarian Betsy Sigmon, had her doubts about that diagnosis. Although Jason’s blood work showed no evidence of Lyme or co-infections, she couldn’t ignore the fact that Jason’s symptoms came on shortly after that tick bite.
She contacted another veterinarian, Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, of North Carolina State University, who studies tick-borne diseases. Breitschwerdt tested Jason’s blood using PCR analysis and found that the boy had Bartonella. It’s a bacteria which can infect both animals and humans, and is carried by fleas, body lice, and ticks. Although not well known in the medical community, Bartonella has been found to cause a wide variety of symptoms, including severe headaches.
Subsequent treatment for Bartonella brought Jason his first pain relief since the problem began.
Jason is a college student now. He and his mom are featured in a video from Galaxy Diagnostics, a Bartonella testing company co-founded by Dr. Breitschwerdt.
In an interview several years ago with the News and Observer, a North Carolina newspaper, Dr. Breitschwerdt asserted that Bartonella should be considered whenever otherwise healthy people develop sudden, chronic illnesses.
But that requires broader awareness of Bartonella among treating physicians. As he told the newspaper, “You can’t diagnose what you don’t know exists.”
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. She is co-author of When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide. Contact her at email@example.com.
- August 8, 2016 at 7:02 pm
Why is it that it takes people to diagnose themselves of these illnesses. This is an incredible failing of the medical system both in the US and globally. A simple analysis like Betsy Sigmon did of her son concluded that a perfectly healthy young man becomes ill after a tick bite. The two are obviously related, and yet the medical profession continues to deny people of crucial antibiotics delivered in a timely manner to resolve the bacterial infections (s). They try ad diagnose anything else and most commonly suggest that it is viral, or just simply “it is in your head”. The problme wiht Bartonella is that it is literally in your head, and CNS.
The sad part about this is that it took a vet to work with another vet to find the problem with her son. If vets can do it, what is wrong with the medical profession? They need to open their eyes and learn about Lyme disease and the multiple bacterial infections that occur from a tick bite.
My own personal experience has proven I was right when I fell ill 4 days after a tick bite. The doctors were so unconvinced that Lyme disease exists in Australia that they sent me off telling me it was “all in my head”. My current tests have come back positive for Borellia, Bartonella Heneslae, Bartonella Qunitana, and Rickettsia. All from one tick bite delivered inside the house from a cat that brought the tick inside.
- August 9, 2016 at 3:05 am
God bless & good luck to you Jason.
- August 9, 2016 at 5:18 am
I was concerned I had Bartonella after a tick bite a couple years ago that left a lasting mark, and I also developed a “stretch mark” rash around the bite, and started struggling with memory and word recollection. I went to my doctor and she basically implied I was nuts, gave me a standard blood test and then told me i didn’t have any diseases based on the results, even though it was obviously not even the right test to diagnose Bartonella. So frustrating that doctors can be so narrow minded and judgemental that they give totally inadequate treatment.
- August 10, 2016 at 7:31 am
Yes!This article and journey resonates with many, who have been effected by lyme.
Thank you for sharing, I pray this article will give hope to others.
- August 18, 2016 at 3:48 am
God bless you and your family in getting an early diagnosis. What treatment did Jason receive, what dosage and how long did it take to recover? I have also tested positive for Bartonella May 15 2016 and have the severe headaches. First bullseye was in 2009, second in 2011 and was treated 20 days with doxycycline 100 mg two times per day.
Any feedback would be nice.
- September 28, 2016 at 3:52 pm
Hi I was just diagnosed 3 weeks ago & have been receiving 2000 mg of an Iv antibiotic for 28 days & 100 my doxycycline 2/day for a month.! My doctor decided to treat really aggressively for which I am grateful. Hope that helps!
- August 18, 2016 at 6:23 pm
Like I have said many, many, many times. Stupid Mafia criminal medical establishment. This medical establishment does not want doctors to even know or recognize Lyme disease. They think they would suffer so much income loss. If I were not sick already, this post would make me sick.
- April 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm
You are so correct it is the medical profession & there insurance companies they are concerned with your money only.
- April 19, 2017 at 3:04 pm
Why isn’t the PCR test used if it is available? ??
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