If Not Lyme Disease, What Caused This Man’s Fever?

June 16, 2016 by Lisa Sanders, M.D.

THE PRESENTING PROBLEM

A doctor thought he knew what brought on this patient’s flulike symptoms, but antibiotics weren’t helping.

“Nonno says he doesn’t feel good,” the 8-year-old girl reported, handing her mother a digital thermometer. The woman looked at the readout — just under 102 degrees.

Her father, the child’s grandfather, had been sick for weeks. He was weak and exhausted and ran a fever accompanied by shaking chills every afternoon. He wasn’t eating and had lost nearly 20 pounds. It was late summer, and the tomato and eggplants in his garden were ripe, but he hadn’t been outside for days. Over the past two months she’d taken her 67-year-old father to doctor after doctor. They looked him over and gave him antibiotics and other medications, but so far nothing had helped.

“Tell Nonno that if he’s feeling sick, he’s got to go to the hospital.” The girl darted back to him with the message, then quickly returned. “He says he’s ready to go.”

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