Thompson Mom Passed Rare Tick Borne Illness to Newborn

A Thompson family said a tick-borne infection was passed along to their son while his mother was pregnant.

Jillian and Karl Kuhn said their infant son, Cole, was hospitalized when he was born. 

"Cole who was three and a half weeks old at the time spiked a fever at night and I brought him to the local emergency room," Jillian said.

After the local clinic couldn’t figure out what caused the fever, the Kuhns took Cole to UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, where after much testing, they determined he had Babesiosis, a tick-borne blood infection.

Babesiosis is the same disease that infected a New Milford man and killed him last week.

"They believed that he had contracted it through me during pregnancy which had been unconfirmed at that time but my recent lab work showed that I had had the infection during pregnancy and passed it to him through my placenta," Jillian said.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Dr. Nick Bennett said the infection being passed on congenitally is very rare – with only four cases ever in the world. Luckily, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Bennett, who is head of infectious diseases at the hospital, said the mother would have to become infected first and since symptoms can be mild they are often missed.

The New England Journal of Medicine said the most common symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, sweats and headache. Jillian said she did have flu-like symptoms at one point.

Cole is doing well at home. While doctors tell the Kuhns he is clear from the infection, parents hope what happened to them can be a lesson to others.

"We’re just very relieved that they found it so quickly because had the fever continued it would have… the infection would have become more rampant and would have progressed further," Jillian said.

Jillian said her case is the first known case of congenitally acquired Babesiosis in the state. NBC Connecticut reached out to the State Department of Public Health. They said they cannot confirm that information at this time, but they are working on trying to get information for us.

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