I stripped the bed down to the mattress, washed all the linens in bleach, and put the mattress pad outside on the line – I even pulled the bed out from the wall – no spiderweb, no indications of spiders anywhere.
When he came home Friday night, he felt awful. He thought he had the flu, so he started taking flu medicine. Saturday and Sunday he still felt awful, and had bad headaches. Monday morning he woke me up to ask me to schedule an appointment with a doctor. He had a rash from the top of his head to the tips of his toes.
The doctor let him share his tale of spider bites, but after an examination and a couple questions, she asked “Have you been recently to the lowveld?” He said, “Swaziland, but that was two weeks ago.” She told us it often takes 10 days for the symptoms to show up. And he had all the symptoms.
Tick fever (rickettsia) is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks. They pick it up from animals in the wild, then transfer it in their saliva when they bite people. African tick bite fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are caused by the same bacteria, but I’m happy to say, the African tick bite fever is much less severe.
Once he started telling people about his experience, he’s heard lots of stories about what they went through when they had it. It’s not uncommon here.
Fortunately, the sickness responds well to antibiotics. The doctor started him on those and pain meds. A testament to the severity of the headaches is that Steven took the pain pills. Before we left Nebraska, I threw away bottles of pain killers from the time of his back surgery because he refused to take them, choosing instead to just deal with the pain.
Another good thing is that there is no recurrence of symptoms; once the meds work their magic and eradicate the bacteria, Steven will be well. Praise God for modern medicine!
In all our married life, I have been the one who attracts the ticks. Steven jokingly told someone the other night that when we were warned about the ticks in Swaziland, he had counted on the fact that his personal tick magnet would spare him the agony. Not this time!
If you want more information, this is the website we used to confirm the diagnosis: