From the Amazon: Another reader with a vector-borne disease?

HAVE YOU SEEN THESE CRITTERS?

Mosquito

mosquito

flea

sand fly

ticks

Richard:
Didn’t see an email for you, so hopefully you’ll get this message.  I was down at my lodge in the Peruvian Amazon this past November.  At the time, I got chewed up viciously my chiggers.  But in retrospect, I suspect it may have been more than just chiggers.  Long story short, upon my return to the states, came down with virulent flu-like symptoms including chills which nearly had me in convulsions that hurt my muscles and than an hour later a fever that would drench my blankets.  All the other flu-like suspects as well.  Even though I had been visiting the jungle for nearly 14 years, I had never been this ill before.  Eventually, the symptoms went away and I didn’t give it much more thought.  Fast forward.  In December, noticed a ringing in my ears.  In February, my left arm began to ache and was unable to lift it.  At the same a mysterious rash appeared one night on both the left and ride side of my ribs right beneath my arms.  No itch or pain, but looked like flea bites.  But nowhere else on my body and my wife didn’t have any bites. Seemed odd, but after a few weeks it disappeared.  But then the pain in my left arm migrated into my right arm.  Also, a slight numbness on the left side of my face.  Went to my GP and he told me I had rotator cuff injury and I should see a physical therapist.  Wait, I’m not stupid.  Where in the medical journals do they talk about rotator cuff injuries traveling from one arm to the other?  None-the-less, I’ve since moved onto a neurologist who had had many MRIs performed, blood tests and most recently a spinal tap.  Based upon my research, I’m starting to hypothesize that maybe I got bit by a tick in addition to all those chiggers…but I haven’t been able to find much in online literature that indicates there are ticks in the Amazon jungle, and if so, if they would carry lyme disease or a distant cousin of that?  I’m at my wit’s end and my symptoms are getting worse.  Do you think there’s any merit to my way of thinking?  Thanks, ________

Dear____,

Please tell me that your doctor checked for malaria. Any traveler with a fever who is returning from an area  known to have malaria needs to be tested. Were you tested for any other diseases? Were you on an anti-malarial? If you had been on a quinine derivative for the malaria, that could be the cause of ringing in the ears.

As far as I can tell, Lyme doesn’t really exist in South America.

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2 responses to “From the Amazon: Another reader with a vector-borne disease?

  1. The letter writer doesn’t mention gastrointestinal symptoms so that rules out a bit. Lyme disease is not present in Peru (or most other countries in South America except for Brazil as far as I know) as the ticks are different – soft versus hard.

    I’m assuming all the normal tests have been done to rule out things like malaria, as Richard mentioned, you could consider bringing up Mayaro virus or Western or Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (don’t let the name fool you, both affect people too). It might be worth it to go to a travel clinic with an ID specialist where they may be more familiar with stranger diseases. The peculiar thing about your disease is the seemingly long incubation period, making it seem like Lyme, but that is highly unlikely. Have they tested you for Lyme? Is it possible you contracted it before or after your trip?

  2. I think you should at least send a blood sample to Igenex in California to test for Lyme Disease. What price to pay for your health. Everthing in your symptom history shouts Lyme Disease and or co infections. As to contacting it in South America as studies don’t appear to have been done much their and ticks are carried by birds they can be found almost anywhere. There are some Lyme specialists that believe Lyme is carried by other biting insects.
    Standard lyme tests are often not very good and although Igenex are the preferred lab by most lyme doctors even they acknowledge that tests can miss cases of lyme Disease the reality is that there are no reliable tests at present. I would suggest you read Burrascano Guidelines google or go wt http://www.ilads.org It was my beneficial response to antibiotics which helped get my diagnosis. Do not depend on what your GP tells you there is so much more research available about lyme than any doctor could possibly know about.

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