The health of a champion swimmer started deteriorating after a family trip to watch the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The cause of her sickness was traced to her visit to the zoo.
It took nine years, but the swimmer finally received a proper diagnosis that identified the cause of what was happening to her.
Champion Swimmer's Olympic Dreams Shattered
Sophie Ward, who was 14 years old at the time, went with her family to China in 2008 to watch the Beijing Olympics. She was a national champion in swimming and was on her way to compete in the Olympics herself as part of the London 2012 World Class Programme.
After coming back home, Ward started feeling poorly with uncontrollable sweating. However, it was not until four years later, when she was 18 years old, that the symptoms started getting worse.
According to Ward, she started to feel severe pain in her muscles and joints. She also suffered from recurring infections, food intolerance, migraines, and sore throats. Her health was declining so rapidly that she was forced to give up on her dream of becoming an Olympian, and also dropped out of college.
Doctors were baffled by her condition, as different kinds of scans turned up negative. Then, in March 2017, a consultant was able to trace her worsening health to the trip to China, diagnosing Ward with Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease From Panda
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread to humans through bites of infected ticks. It appears that she was bitten by a tick while petting a panda in China.
Ward was also diagnosed with Coxsackie virus, which is a viral infection that causes foot, mouth, and hand disease.
Currently, Ward is taking herbal treatment because her body has become too weak to safely ingest antibiotics. She also has to use wheelchairs for long trips.
Ward is now writing a personal blog for Lyme Disease UK, a charity that seeks to raise awareness about the dangers of the illness and to push for more research into treatment.
Protection Against Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a very serious condition, so people are highly recommended to protect themselves from tick bits.
Among the suggested methods for keeping tick away include wearing permethrin clothes, which are doused with the bug spray, spraying insect repellent, avoiding wooded and grassy areas, and checking clothes for any ticks that may have been brought home.
There is even a Tick App for the iOS and Android to help users avoid areas where ticks have been encountered.