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Lyme disease - How a tick bite destroyed the career of an athletics champion
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:16 am    Post subject: Lyme disease - How a tick bite destroyed the career of an athletics champion Reply with quote


How a tick bite destroyed the career of an athletics champion Daily
Mail Reporter 09:49am 20th June 2006
Reader comments (4)
Out of the race:
Miss Waterson says she is unable to train

A leading athlete who ran for Britain has had her sporting dream
shattered - by a tick. Kirsty Waterson's life has been turned upside
down by a disease she picked up after she was bitten by one of the bugs
while running in a forest. The long-distance runner contracted Lyme
Disease, which left her with headaches and severe fatigue. But
most distressing for Miss Waterson is the fact that athletics training
can trigger setbacks in the condition. This has left her unable to
regain her fitness - or her place in the athletics world. 'I have
to take it a day at a time. It makes me feel very tired,' said Miss
Waterson. 'By 6pm I often have to go to sleep. I have lost a lot of
weight. 'A lot of people in the athletics world have asked
"Where's Kirsty gone?". I am desperate to get back to my original
fitness level. But I have tried so many times and each time I try, I
get ill.' She was competing in the Suffolk Cross Country
Championships when she was bitten
and contracted Lyme Disease. Miss Waterson, who has run with the
likes of Paula Radcliffe, thought little of the tiny rash which
developed on her ankle after the Thetford Forest race in January 2004.
She didn't see a doctor for eight months. When she did seek help,
the doctor was baffled by the rash and referred her to a skin
specialist. Blood tests revealed she had Lyme Disease. The illness
is caused by a bacteria carried by the tick which is transmitted when
the tick begins to draw up the host's blood. In the U. S., where
it is more common, it is the Borrelia burgdor-feri bacteria. In the UK
a related strain - Borrelia garinii - is predominant. Rash
Typically a rash appears at the bite mark. At this stage victims can
also experience joint pains, fever and fatigue, and as the bacteria
spreads around the body, a stiff neck, facial paralysis and tingling.
More severe symptoms can include severe headaches, painful arthritis
and joint swelling,
heart problems and even mental disorders such as short-term memory
loss and difficulty concentrating. Antibiotics are used to treat
Lyme Disease, but if the illness is not caught early it does not
respond well to treatment. Miss Waterson, of Bury St Edmunds,
Suffolk, escaped the most debilitating symptoms and her doctors say she
is over the worst. However, it can recur and it has so far stopped her
returning to the running track. She belonged to the St Edmunds
Pacers running club and at 15 came third in the England cross country
championships. At 16 she became South of England cross country champion
for under-17 women. The same year, 1999, she came second in the
England cross-country championships and in 2001 she ran for the Great
Britain and Northern Ireland Under-20s women in the World Cross Country
Championships in Dublin. Peter Golding, chairman of St Edmunds
Pacers, said: 'This is a tragic shame. Kirsty was a prodigious talent -
probably the best
to have ever come out of this area.' Miss Waterson, who is an estate
agent but is due to start training as a beauty therapist, said: 'My
doctors say I am over it, but I'm not. With me it comes and goes, a bit
like glandular fever.' Left with a small scar on her ankle where
the tick buried itself, Miss Waterson wants others to avoid going
through her ordeal. 'Many have not heard of Lyme Disease or assume
you can only catch it in North America,' she said. 'If they are walking
or running in forests they should wear long trousers and long sleeves.
'And if they do get a rash, they should get it checked out. Not
getting it checked out for eight months was my biggest mistake.'
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