A rare case

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY RICHARD MAHONEY News Staff

When Rémi Bar­beau ex­pe­ri­enced swelling in his leg dur­ing March Break, ev­ery­one thought that the prob­lem would soon go away.

He had prob­a­bly suf­fered a mi­nor in­jury while ski­ing. But the swelling in his left calf wors­ened. “The pain con­tin­ued,” says the 10-year-old from Alexan­dria.

Even­tu­ally a “baker’s cyst” de­vel­oped on the back of his knee.

As the mal­ady per­sisted, doc­tors con­tin­ued to be baf­fled by the cause of the symp­toms. At one point, the the­ory was that Rémi had picked up ring worm from one of the fam­ily’s dogs.

Af­ter a bat­tery of tests, and a long hos­pi­tal stay, it was de­ter­mined that Rémi was in fact demon­strat­ing signs of stage 2 Lyme dis­ease. This was not a typ­i­cal case. “Nobody even thought of Lyme dis­ease be­cause he did not have the nor­mal symp­toms, such as the bull’s eye mark,” re­calls his mother, Nathalie.

Also, since ticks spread the dis­ease, it was highly un­likely that he be­came in­fected in the mid­dle of win­ter.

Symp­toms usu­ally ap­pear within three to 30 days af­ter a tick bite.

Doc­tors later con­cluded that he had been bit­ten six months be­fore the baker’s cyst ap­peared.

The di­ag­no­sis came af­ter Rémi spent a week at the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Eastern On­tario in Ot­tawa, where blood tests, fluid ex­trac­tions and ul­tra­sound were used to try to solve the mys­tery.

Treat­ments to re­lieve swelling had lim­ited suc­cess.

Steroids were pre­scribed to try to deal with what­ever was caus­ing Rémi to run a high fever and suf­fer night sweats. He would later re­ceive doses of an­tibi­otics.

Anal­y­sis of an opaque liq­uid drained from his leg showed no signs of in­fec­tion. “I don’t like nee­dles,” says Rémi. “It was in­tense,” his mother re­calls. Fi­nally, April 19, re­sults from a spe­cial lab­o­ra­tory that tests for Lyme dis­ease con­cluded that he had tested pos­i­tive for the ail­ment.

A month of an­tibi­otics suc­cess­fully treated the dis­ease.

“He was lucky,” ob­serves Ms. Bar­beau, not­ing that in some cases Lyme can lead to se­ri­ous, long-term health prob­lems.

Rémi, a grade 5 pupil at École Terre des Je­unes who plays foot­ball, soc­cer and hockey, is back to nor­mal. “Every­thing is fine,” he says. Un­der­stand­ably, the fam­ily is more wary of what tiny, po­ten­tially lethal, crea­tures that may be wait­ing out­doors. “We are very care­ful when we go out­side,” says Ms. Bar­beau.

The Bar­beaus have three dogs and two cats; two dogs have had Lyme dis­ease.

The Eastern On­tario Health Unit, which is fol­low­ing Rémi’s case, has been try­ing to raise aware­ness about the dis­ease, of­fer­ing free tick re­moval cards to lo­cal res­i­dents.

The re­gion that en­com­passes Stor­mon­tDun­das-Glen­garry and Prescott-Russell is a known risk area where black­legged ticks have been iden­ti­fied and where in­di­vid­u­als have the po­ten­tial to come into con­tact with in­fected ticks.

What to look for

Lyme is an in­flam­ma­tory dis­ease char­ac­ter­ized at first by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and later by pos­si­ble arthri­tis and neu­ro­log­i­cal and car­diac dis­or­ders, caused by bac­te­ria that are trans­mit­ted by ticks. Symp­toms are sim­i­lar to the flu. Most peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence mild flu-like symp­toms soon af­ter be­ing bit­ten, while a small num­ber may have more se­ri­ous symp­toms, some­times weeks af­ter the bite.

If left un­treated, more se­vere symp­toms may oc­cur and can last from months to years. Se­vere symp­toms may in­clude se­vere headaches, fa­cial paral­y­sis, heart dis­or­ders, neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems such as mem­ory loss, con­fu­sion, in­flam­ma­tion of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, numb­ness or tin­gling in the hands or feet.

In rare cases, Lyme dis­ease can lead to death usu­ally be­cause of com­pli­ca­tions in­volv­ing in­fec­tion of the heart.

RICHARD MAHONEY PHOTO

MYS­TERY SOLVED: Rémi Bar­beau, shown here with his mother, Nathalie, and sis­ter, Maya, man­aged to suc­cess­fully com­bat Lyme dis­ease the 10-year-old from Alexan­dria prob­a­bly con­tracted from a tick bite last year.

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