Mother describes challenges in getting treatment for newborn with Lyme disease

Newborn infant in hospital bed.

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Victoria Saigle, a nurse, described the difficulties in getting the care she needed for her newborn child (only 4 lbs.) with Lyme disease. [1] She is not alone.

The mother saw a tick on her newborn daughter. “Three days later, she was very sleepy and hard to rouse,” the mother wrote. The infant had a red rash but not a Bull’s-eye rash. She was hospitalized. Intravenous antibiotics were prescribed via a PICC [peripherally inserted central catheter] line.

The mother described sleeping in a small bed at the hospital next to her child. The care was more difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions. She was isolated with some depression and anxiety and concerned about her 3-year-old at home.

She was unable to pull off a 3-hour drive there and back and take care of her child. “They were trying to transfer us to a closer hospital, but one local hospital wouldn’t take her because of the PICC line and the other didn’t have beds. And there was a real shortage of home care nurses,” wrote the mother.

Fortunately, the mother was a specialized infusion and injection nurse who reluctantly was able to take care of the PICC line and the infusions at home.

The mother describes herself as having “tick PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder]. We have 55 acres of hay field surrounding us and it has definitely changed the way we play outside.”

Editor’s note: The mother’s difficulties receiving care for Lyme disease were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, I’ve had patients with similar experiences who have found it difficult to find medical care to properly diagnose and treat Lyme disease.

  1. Saigle V. Rural parents’ experience in receiving care for their newborn with Lyme disease. CMAJ. Jul 18 2022;194(27):E950. doi:10.1503/cmaj.220945

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