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Kate Moran

Kate Moran

K ate Moran loves to run and so in 2004 when she was in training for an 18K race, she was not all that surprised when her left knee started to swell. After all, running can have its consequences.

X-rays showed she had a tiny tear and her doctor said it could be easily repaired.

A scientist at URI's Bay Campus where she is also Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography, Moran said her knee seemed mended well and she subsequently went on a research expedition to the Arctic.

On her return, however, her right knee swelled up. Her doctor suspected Lyme disease and a test confirmed that with excessively high numbers. In fact she also had babesiosis, another disease that is transmitted by ticks.

Oral antibiotics did not work for her. Rather she had to have self-administered shots. "That was interesting-giving myself shots," she says.

Moran said she also had some memory problems. "I just wasn't myself," she says noting she was on antibiotics most of the time from 2004 to 2006.

Her joints still ache-the problem is often people do not know whether the ache is from Lyme or from the normal aging process. She also had a shoulder problem-she could not move her arm about her shoulder. Surgery helped that.

Her experience with tick-borne diseases has resulted in an extra thick packet of information that is given to new students arriving at the Bay Campus.

That campus is a former shore battery site and the surrounding property has several footpaths through brush that people like to walk for exercise. The surrounding area also has a heavy deer population and hence deer ticks abound.

Moran notes that many of the students who come to the graduate school are from other parts of the world where tick-borne diseases are unknown. As a result when the students arrive and are given an information packet there is a data sheet on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in the envelope. Signs are also posted around the campus warning of the tick dangers.

Even so, she says, "the students tend to take it (the dangers) lightly." Victims like Moran certainly don't.

Written By Rudi Hempe