LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Jack Jessen was one of the fastest fifth graders in his school.
Until he got what they thought was the flu."We saw about 30 plus doctors,” Jessen’s mom, Amy LeBoeuf said, “Not one of them could really explain every single symptom."
Jessen went on to be diagnosed with mono, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease and more, totaling six different auto immune diseases.
LeBoeuf said, “Watching your child go from playing tournament soccer and just loving life and being the fastest kid in fifth grade to not being able to get out of a chair without help, to get in and out of the bathtub, not being able to think clearly, to be in debilitating pain every day, is literally life altering”
After much research, LeBoeuf tracked everything down to one thing: “A cat scratch by a stray cat.”
Jessen was eventually told he had Bartonella, something very few doctors are able to diagnose
“A cat goes indoors and outdoors, it almost always picks up Bartonella,” said Dr. Robert Mozayeni, a Rheumatologist in Maryland, “And then they bring it indoors— and if you have a little bite or scratch—you can get Bartonella.”
Bartonella is a bacterial infection and commonly causes Cat Scratch Disease, unbeknownst to many doctors, it can actually become chronic and require months worth of antibiotic treatment.
Many people are misdiagnosed with an autoimmune disease not knowing they were bitten by an insect or an scratched by an animal that was actually carrying Bartonella. “Animal health, environmental health and human health are all interconnected and related,” LeBoeuf said.
Jessen got his answer when a rheumatologist and a vet put their heads together."It can happen to anyone,” LeBoeuf said, “We don’t want anyone to not know the potential for something like this to happen"
Through Louisiana One Health In Action, Jessen and LeBoeuf want to raise awareness about Bartonella. “I mean it’s definitely like you never hear about it but it ruins like your whole life,” Jessen said.
There are currently 40 different strains of Bartonella.
LeBoeuf says because of the nature of Bartonella, it is difficult to test positive for, even if you do have it, because it cycles out of your cells every 5 to 8 days.
Louisiana One Health In Action is currently planning a color run in Sulphur on November 3rd to raise money and awareness for animal and environmental transported diseases.