We report a case of a 79-year-old male presenting to a South Bronx hospital with complaints of fever, shortness of breath, severe thrombocytopenia, hematuria, elevated liver enzymes, and acute renal failure. The patient rapidly progressed to acute hypoxic respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. Treatment was delayed for six days because the tick-borne disease was not considered in the differential. Empirical treatment of tick-borne illnesses should be considered in the proper clinical setting, and travel history should be relevant in any patient presenting with fever. Delay in appropriate treatment results in the onset of more severe illness.