Bacteria From Tick Bite Triggers Facial Tic, OCD, and Sudden Rage in Young Girl

Close up of Tick on the edge of a leaf
Researchers are investigating a tick-borne bacteria that has caused PANS in a young girl in Maine.Getty

"It was like someone took my child and replaced her," a mother told News Center Maine.

The mother blames a tick-borne bacteria for causing her 7-year-old daughter to develop facial tics, severe OCD, and sudden rage, according to a News Center Mains report.

Rebecca Jackson told News Center Maine that her daughter, Gracie, began to regress in school and become severely depressed over time.

"That's when she said 'Mommy, there is a monster in my head, please get me help,'" Rebecca told the outlet.

News Center Maine reported that Rebecca took Gracie to a specialist who diagnosed her with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, also known as PANS. It is believed to be triggered by infections or inflammatory reactions.

Gracie was given the diagnosis after blood testing confirmed a specific bacterium prevalent in deer ticks caused PANS.

A tick-borne bacteria called Borrelia miyamotoi has been discovered to cause symptoms like fevers, chills, and headaches, according to the CDC. It is related to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, which also is transmitted through ticks.

According to News Center Maine, researchers at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab are investigating the bacteria.

"We have started testing for Borrelia miyamotoi, which is another pathogen that can be transmitted by the deer tick in Maine," Griffin Dill, the manager of the UMaine Extension Tick Lab in Orono, told the outlet. 

Dill told News Center Maine that compared to ticks carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, which is about 50%, the number of deer ticks carrying the bacteria is extremely low, with an infection rate of less than 5%.

News Center Maine reported that Rebecca never discovered a tick that was implanted on Gracie, unlike other patients with tick-borne diseases. Additionally, she discovered no evidence of the bullseye rash, pains, fever, or joint discomfort that typically develops following a tick bite. 

However, some people don't exhibit any symptoms or indicators at all.

Gracie has been diagnosed with Lyme and Bartonella, a Lyme disease co-infection typically causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, poor appetite, and streaked rashes that resemble “stretch marks” from pregnancy, Rebecca told News Center Maine.

Doctors are trying to figure out which of these conditions—including PANS—caused Gracie's abrupt development of seizures.

Dr. Rebecca Morrell, a naturopathic doctor at the Integrative Health Center of Maine, told News Center Maine to get embedded ticks off as soon as possible to lower transmission time.

Depending on the signs and symptoms, Morrell suggests an antibiotic treatment, News Center Maine reported, as early treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases typically results in improved patient outcomes. 

Gracie's symptoms decreased by over 80% after receiving antibiotics, News Center Maine reported.

Related Stories