London - A family has blamed their daughter’s death on a tick bite during a trip to Australia 11 years ago.
Carly Ellis, 39, was found dead in her bed by her parents Ian and Cheryl at their home in Gloucester last month.
She had fallen ill after returning from her trip, and was initially diagnosed with meningitis before being told she had Lyme disease. She was given a course of antibiotics and told the infection would soon clear.
But her condition did not improve and – despite further treatment – she suffered years of illnesses and infections.
Now her devastated parents believe she eventually succumbed to the disease, which they believe stemmed from 2008 when she was bitten by a tick during her ten months of travelling. ‘We think that she was bitten in Rockness Island in Australia,’ said her mother, 62.
At the time, Miss Ellis, who worked at a racecourse, reported a red ring around her bite – but thought nothing of it. Mr Ellis, 63, said: ‘Carly wanted to travel the world. She was outgoing and bubbly. Before she became unwell and had the illnesses, she was non-stop.’
In 2011, Miss Ellis became ill and was taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where she was diagnosed with meningitis. After four months of treatment she was allowed home, but soon returned for more tests – and was told she had Lyme disease.
Mrs Ellis said: ‘Carly was given two weeks’ worth of antibiotics. They said that it would clear her. We took her to a private clinic as things were not resolved. They tested her and they confirmed she had Lyme disease. She was treated with two types of antibiotics for around six months.’
During her eight years of illness Miss Ellis suffered from sepsis, pneumonia and had her gallbladder out.
Victims of tick bites can go months before realising they have been affected. Rosie Milsom, of Caudwell LymeCo Charity, said: ‘Awareness and prevention is absolutely key when it comes to Lyme disease.
‘If spotted early, it can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics, but can become very debilitating if not spotted sooner.
‘Many sufferers become virtually or completely housebound – like Carly – and experience life-changing symptoms of pain and fatigue.’
JUST WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
Known as the ‘great imitator’, Lyme disease can display symptoms which lead to a misdiagnosis of arthritis and MS.
Victims of tick bites should look out for a bullseye-shaped rash, which can appear in more than half of cases.
It usually takes 36 to 48 hours for an infected tick to transmit Lyme disease to a human.
The main cause of Lyme is a bacterium called Borrelia, which can weaken the immune system and reactivate dormant viruses.
There are an estimated 3,000 cases in the UK each year.Daily Mail