BLACKPOOL- Tracy Clarkson, 39, a mother of three and grandmother of one, had contracted the potentially fatal Lyme disease after she was bitten by a tick unknowingly while walking in wooded hills in Arnside, Cumbria in 2004.
A tick is a blood-sucking parasite that carries various infectious diseases and is found in woodland areas that feed on the blood of mammals, including humans.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks.
Tracy was taken to the hospital by her mom, Carole Knight, an A & E nurse back then, who spotted the skin rash after a week. The tick was removed, but no antibiotics were given to Tracy due to her pregnancy that time.
Seven months later, she was struck down with viral meningitis. The condition is linked to Lyme disease and left her hospitalized for five weeks. She then recovered from meningitis, but continued to suffer severe symptoms as reported by the Mirror.
Tracy is a single mother and a social worker on a youth offending team in Blackpool. She had been in and out of the hospital and took months off from work and lost her active lifestyle.
Her condition got worse in 2009 when she lost the use of her legs, bowel and bladder, following her confinement in bed for five months.
Tracy also had a brain scan later in that year which revealed her suffering from encephalitis – a serious inflammation of the brain and possible lesions.
According to the Mirror, Tracy has now issued a stark warning that other hikers could also fall victim as wet, mild winters help tick numbers rocket throughout the country.
Tracy said: “There is very little awareness of this. “People do not realise ticks are dangerous and the damage they can do.”
She also said: “I had gone from being really healthy, training for triathlons to not being able to walk. The doctor said because it had been in my blood for five years, the damage that had been done could not be undone, all they could do was stop it doing more damage.”
In December last year, Tracy was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome (CES)- a particularly serious type of nerve root problem which can cause serious sensory loss. This came after undergoing a hysterectomy when she suffered from severe hormonal problems.
Stella Huyshe-Shires, of charity Lyme Disease Action said that: “In the past, over the period that poor Tracy has been trying to get diagnosed, there has been very little good quality information available.” She also said that Tracy’s battle for this disease is not forsaken.