What is meningoencephalitis? Pennsylvania boy, 3, contracts rare illness from TICK BITE

The toddler was swimming in a neighbor’s pool when his mom noticed a small speck on his right shoulder blade, it was a tick smaller than a pen point


                            What is meningoencephalitis? Pennsylvania boy, 3, contracts rare illness from TICK BITE
Jonny is one of the most energetic 3-year-olds you will meet, his mother said (Jamie Simoson/Instagram)
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Pennsylvania: A 3-year-old boy, Jonny Simoson in Pennsylvania was diagnosed with a dangerous and debilitating tick-borne disease, meningoencephalitis, after his mother, Jamie Simoson spotted a tick while he went swimming in the neighbor's pool.

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Over the next days, his condition worsened. After a second visit to the doctor, the child’s mother took Jonny to the emergency room after he had a 104-degree fever. An anticipated short stay in the hospital turned into many weeks. Elevated white blood cell counts, high fever, and drowsiness were some of the major symptoms for Jonny. A spinal tap found that he had increased neutrophils: a type of white blood cell that acts as the immune system's first responders in the cord fluid. Jonny was also treated for bacterial and viral meningitis until doctors ruled them out.

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According to various reports, The boy was transferred to a specialty children’s hospital, and then to the intensive care unit. According to sources, "Johnny was still not walking, and his balance was poor," Simoson told the New York Post. "We knew we had a ton of work to do but were up for the challenge." After being transferred to a specialty children's hospital, doctors were still at a dead end. "Things got really scary at that point."It was so frustrating searching for an answer. We were terrified that we might not be coming home with our child." said, Jamie Simoson. After 12 days in the hospital recovering, Jonny was finally discharged. Neurologists were able to diagnose that the tick bite Jonathan sustained transmitted the rare Powassan virus, which then triggered meningoencephalitis: an infection of both the brain and the thin tissue around it. The diagnosis was then followed by a night of intravenous immunoglobulin, a treatment for patients with antibody deficiencies. Incredibly, within 15 hours of his first dose, Jonny was awake and talking.

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As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human Powassan virus infections have been found in the US, Canada, and Russia. In the US, cases of Powassan have been reported primarily in the northeastern states and the Great Lakes region. These cases occur primarily in the late spring, early summer, and mid-fall when ticks are most active. There have only been 178 reported cases in the US since 2011.

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In one of the Facebook posts from July 4, 2022, from 'Jonny’s Journey fighting Meningoencephalitis caused by Powassan Virus' a personal blog handled by Jamie Simoson, his mother states: "Intro! Jonny is an otherwise healthy, energetic 3-year-old who will do anything for a laugh (or a “candy corn” as he refers to his favorites candy, Smarties). Overall, he has no known health issues and is mentally age-appropriate. He is the youngest of 3 children and absolutely adores both his sister Jessie who is 10 and his idol Jacob who is 18. Aside from very recently, Jonny has lead a pretty normal, boring average lifestyle. He lives at home with both parents and his siblings has a super cool dog named Max, 2 cats, and has a whole host of fun. Well begin to chart his journey beginning June 15, 2022, which will help describe a little bit of how we got to what we are calling “diagnosis day”: In another post, the family showed the little tick that bit Jonny, "This is the tick that we pulled off Jonathan’s back on 6/15. You can see in comparison to a pen, it is very tiny!"

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Most of all, the family wants to raise awareness for everyone out there, especially parents. "We want everyone to be aware of the real risks associated with tick-borne illnesses and be vigilant when it comes to prevention and symptom recognition," she said. "A tiny tick could have taken our sweet boy from us. We are so lucky to be able to share his story." She added, "If it reaches just one person and helps get them treatment sooner, what we went through will all be worth it." The family has created a Facebook page to spread awareness and share Jonny's recovery.

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