Woman got meningitis from a tick bite in New York City

A woman has contracted spinal meningitis from a tick bite in New York City.

Dee Vandenburg, of Staten Island, was at her home near a deer park earlier this year when she was bitten by a deer tick.

‘It’s the most excruciating pain I’ve ever had in my life,’ she told CBS.

However, after pulling out the tick, she thought nothing of it. But four months later, she started to experience a fever, rashes and intense nausea. 

Rushed to the hospital, she was diagnosed with life-threatening spinal meningitis. It took two weeks in intensive care for Dee to be stabilized.

Now home, with a permanent IV drip to administer antibiotics, she is speaking out about her ordeal to warn others of the dangers of deer ticks. 

Dee Vandenburg, of Staten Island, was at her home near a deer park earlier this year when she was bitten by a deer tick. Months later she was hospitalized with meningitis. Pictured: Dee with her husband 

Due to increasing tick populations, Lyme disease cases on Staten Island have skyrocketed by 362 percent from 2010 to 2016, data revealed earlier this year.  

Lyme is the most common chronic development from a tick bite. 

However, some people can go on to develop life-threatening blood diseases triggered by the bacterial infection.

Spinal meningitis is an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Once infection starts, it can spread rapidly through the body.

Without treatment it can cause brain damage in a matter of hours and can be fatal within 24 hours.

The infection starts about two weeks before it shows symptoms. 

Symptoms include light sensitivity, fatigue, fever, muscle spasm, pain that radiates from the spine, seizures, and vomiting. 

Dee’s experience comes amid a cluster of Lyme disease cases also on Staten Island.

She lives near Wolfe’s Pond Park, which has a growing population of deer – despite the city’s efforts to funnel $2 million into sterilizing the animals.

‘We have deer that walk down our street like they own it,’ Dee told CBS. ‘They’re beautiful, but they’re not so pretty anymore.’

According to Dee, six of her neighbors have been diagnosed with diseases connected to tick bites this summer. 


  1. Know where to expect ticks – areas of dense vegetation encourage the pest.
  2. Use a repellent – reapply regularly when the weather is humid or if you are swimming.
  3. Dress to deter ticks – choose clothes with elastic or drawstrings and tuck long trousers into socks.
  4. Take a walking stick with you – tap vegetation ahead of you to knock off any waiting ticks.
  5. Do the tick check – when you are out for the day, a quick inspection on clothing and exposed skin can help to detect ticks before they attach.
  6. Carry a tick remover – this helps to remove them sooner, lessening the chance of disease transmission.
  7. Dispose of ticks safely – wrap and squash it in a tissue and flush it or dispose of it in a bin. 
  8. Protect your pets – tick-control products that are ‘spot on’ or ‘spray on’ are available.
  9. Deter ticks from your garden – ticks thrive in humid environments and avoid sunny, dry areas. 
  • Source: Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK

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