Jo Rogers was vacationing in Oklahoma, when she was unknowingly bitten by a tick that cost her more than she could have ever imagined. This 40-year-old wife and mother of two had been visiting Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, and returned from her trip to find that she’d come down with what she thought was the flu. But after days of enduring her “flu-like” symptoms, she made the decision to go to the hospital.
Jo was tested for the West Nile Virus and Meningitis – however, both results came back negative. After two days of additional testing in the hospital, doctors discovered that Jo was in fact bitten by a tick, and was suffering from side effects of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. This dangerous and potentially deadly infection did not take Jo’s life, but it severely altered life as she’d known it.
For Jo, one random, unexpected, small insect bite would end up forcing the amputation of both of her arms and both of her legs. Jo’s life was forever changed – in an instant.
On the family’s GoFundMe page, Jo’s cousin shared this message during Jo’s hospital experience:
“She has been in the 3 different hospitals since July 9th, after a short vacation in NE Oklahoma. Shortly after being moved to an Oklahoma City hospital, she went into septic shock and was put on a ventilator into a medical coma. She was tested for West Nile Virus, meningitis and all other bacterial and viral infections. To protect her vital organs, her body deferred the infection to her limbs. Since then she has had surgeries to remove her right leg mid-thigh, her left leg below the knee and both of her arms mid-forearm. She will soon have more surgeries on her arms to prevent the infection from spreading more. Last Friday, it was found that she has a blood clot in her lung, more infection in her blood and they are fighting the possibility of pneumonia. They finally found that she has Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever; the worst case seen. She is still on a ventilator and being kept sedated to help with pain.”
Jo has since returned home, and with the love and support of her family and friends is working to adjust to a very different life – a process that will undoubtedly take a great deal of time. There has been such an outpouring of support on the “Help Jo” GoFundMe page, and people from all over are reaching out, saying prayers, and donating to help with medical expenses.
In an attempt to prevent the contraction of this potentially deadly infection, it’s important to take precautionary measures to avoid tick bites. ABC News offers a few safety suggestions when spending time in a rural area:
– Be certain to wear insect repellent containing DEET
– Cover your skin with long, loose, light-colored clothing (making ticks more visable)
– Thoroughly inspect all skin covered in hair after spending time outdoors
If you do locate a tick on your skin, remove the entire tick immediately with tweezers. Do not burn the insect, or use alcohol or Vaseline on it – use tweezers alone.
If in fact you were bitten by a tick, or believe you may have been, here are some of thesymptoms to watch for:
– nausea and vomiting
– rash on skin (however, be aware that a rash may not be as obvious on darker skin)
If you do suffer from any of these symptoms, and believe that it could be the result of a bite, seek medical attention immediately.
Learn more about Jo’s tragic story and about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:
Although cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever have predominantly taken place in the eastern half of the country and during the warmer months – cases have been reported all over the country, and during all times of the year. Share this story, and remind others of the safety precautions and symptoms related to this potentially deadly disease.