FRESNO, CA (KMJ) – May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month – one local mother hopes to share her daughter’s story to spread awareness.
Jody Hudson’s daughter, Alex was supposed to be heading off to UCLA, but on March 24th, the 22 year-old lost her fight. For ten years, they didn’t know they were battling Lyme Disease.
“Most individuals don’t realize they have been bitten by a tick, and also you can get it through mosquitos,” said Hudson. “People think oh, it’s an East Coast disease, oh, you only get it out in the Midwest or the East Coast. Well, I have news for you, it’s here in the West Coast. There was a trail here in Pismo, that just opened up that had to be immediately shut down because it was a health crisis. People were coming off the trail with — one family says they counted over 200 ticks.”
Hudson says Alex started seeing symptoms in sixth grade, suffering joint and inflammation problems.
“It just impacted every part of her organs, her joints, so we started the tests, you know, everything they came back with was negative. She doesn’t have juvenile arthritis, she doesn’t have this, she doesn’t have that,” said Hudson. “They basically said she was a medical mystery.”
Finally, a doctor in Southern California diagnosed it as a tick-borne disease. Jody believes Alex may have gotten it from a trip to Shaver Lake.
Alex wasted away, losing sixty pounds and becoming bedridden in her last months.
She was suffering infections and from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, finally dying from complications.
Jody works as Operations Director for Catholic Charities, her faith giving her the strength to start the Alex Hudson Lyme Disease Foundation in honor of her daughter, to help finance the very expensive testing for others to diagnose the disease.
“She really wanted to be a miracle, she really wanted to turn this around and to help others. When she knew towards the end that there were the possibility that that wasn’t going to happen she told me; ‘you need to carry on this legacy, you need to be my voice.'”
Link to the Alex Hudson Lyme Disease Foundation.
Click to listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern:
Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite)
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
- Erythema migrans (EM) rash: ◦Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
- Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
- Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
- May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
- Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
- May appear on any area of the body (See examples of EM rashes)
Later Signs and Symptoms (days to months after tick bite)
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- •Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
- •Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- •Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
- Problems with short-term memory