Oklahoma Mom's Limbs Amputated After Tick Bite
6 days after a Grand Lake holiday trip, Jo Rogers' organs shut down
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2015 5:00 PM CDT
In this March 18, 2002, file photo, a tick is seen under a microscope at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, RI.   (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

(Newser) – A Fourth of July hike to see waterfalls near Grand Lake, Okla., took a bad turn once Jo Rogers and her husband, Keith, got home. Soon after their return, Keith tells ABC News, Jo didn't feel well and suspected the flu. But as Jo got sicker and so lethargic that Keith says "she wasn't making any sense," he took her to the ER about a week after they came home—and things continued to worsen. "She was shaking her hands because they hurt, her feet hurt," her cousin, Lisa Morgan, tells KOCO. Then her organs began shutting down, and "by Saturday morning, her arms and feet were turning dark blue and black. It was crawling up her limbs," Morgan says. The diagnosis: a tick bite that infected Jo with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The course of treatment: to amputate all four of her already-gangrenous limbs to give her a chance at life.

"They had to cut off her right leg just above the knee, her left leg just below the knee and both her arms about mid-forearm," her husband tells ABC, noting Jo has also been contending with other complications from the disease, including blood clots in her lungs that called for a tracheotomy. Up to 5% people who contract RMSF end up dying, the state Department of Health notes, but death isn't common in patients who receive rapid diagnosis and treatment. Keith Rogers doesn't know how long his wife will be in the hospital receiving treatment and rehab, he tells ABC. "Every day is a new challenge. I go in there, sit and talk to her and show her pictures of how our two boys [ages 12 and 17, per a GoFundMe page for the family] are doing," he tells ABC. "I show her videos of her two dogs back at home. I try to keep it normal, but it gets very hard because she'll want me not to leave, and it's so hard because I can't take her with me." (There's another new tick-borne disease making waves.)