By Lauren Fruen
A HEALTHY dad-of-two lost his life just days after being bitten by a tick in his back garden.
Jeff Naticchia, 50, began complaining of a fever but after visiting medics was told he had a kidney infection and given antibiotics.
But just four days after being admitted to hospital the telecommunications work had died, leaving behind his wife and two children
Jeff – who led an “active, healthy” lifestyle – was used to tick bites living near woodland in Pennsylvania with his family.
Now his wife Crissy, 51, is attempting to raise awareness of parasitic infections after Jeff was diagnosed with Babesiosis, a malaria-like disease in July last year.
Project manager Crissy, who was married to Jeff for 23 years, said: “He was active, healthy and getting in shape and then suddenly he developed a fever.
“He liked to do everything – hiking, canoeing, keeping fit.
“I have known him 26 years and he had only been sick twice, so it was a big deal. He was never sick.
“He didn’t have any other symptoms except sweating.
“After a few days he sought medical help and was told he had a kidney infection. He took antibiotics but he still didn’t feel 100 per cent.
“We were supposed to be going away for the weekend but he still felt so bad that we went to the hospital. He was completely yellow. He looked like Homer Simpson.
“They ran all kinds of tests but he was getting worse.
“I didn’t even think he could be because of a tick bite. We live near a park and there are deer in the back yard so we were always getting bitten.
“It didn’t cross our minds. In fact, we had recently been to Costa Rica and I thought he may have been bitten there. I didn’t think it could have come from our own backyard.
“He was only 50-years-old. It makes me so angry that he died like this because it was such a senseless thing.
“Jeff had his spleen removed when he was younger and this made the bite so dangerous.
“My husband was all about his family – he did everything for us.
“We were just in shock. I had to go home, wake my children up and tell them their dad had died. We thought he had been getting better.
“We are now just trying to get by and raise awareness so that people don’t have to go through what we did.”
What is Babesiosis?
Babesiosis is a malaria-like illness caused by a tick bite. It’s caused by microscopic parasites.
Most people may not even remember having a tick bite.
Symptoms include a fever, chills, sweats and headaches.
It can be life-threatening for people without a spleen, or who have a weakened immune system.