A York County family is speaking out after their granddaughter died from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. "You don't ever want to see a loved one go through what Lily went through. It was horrific," said Donna Hoffman.
The family is devastated after three-year-old Lily Bennett, died from the tick borne illness. The first fatal case in Central Pennsylvania in nearly 25 years. A rare virus caused by a bacteria usually transmitted by a dog tick.
"She had a really high fever and spots and nausea," said Donna, Lily's grandmother.
So on August 10th, they immediately took her to a doctor but it only got worse. Days later, she ended up in the emergency room at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. But it was too late. Lily died on August 17th. One day after her third birthday.
"She was lots and lots of fun and if you were sad she would go like this - you need to smile and be happy," added Donna.
"She was a bright, vivacious, happy little girl. She was always happy. She always made us smile," said Ron Hoffman, Lily's grandfather.
Lily's grandparents say she had a larger than life personality and loved being outdoors. Their garden was one of her favorite places to be.
"We were out here a lot. Actually we played in the front yard a lot. We played golf out here with her," said Donna.
This home video was taken just days before she died. Lily is seen opening up an early birthday gift. Mickey Mouse kiddie golf clubs from her great grandmother.
Doctor Glenn Geeting, an emergency room physician with Penn State Hershey Medical Center says the virus is very difficult to diagnose. And he says it's important to treat this illness quickly before it becomes fatal.
"The tick has to be on a person generally for six or ten hours, between six and ten hours for it to spread the infection so obviously if people are out and about people want to be careful about ticks and do a tick check and get ticks off as fast as possible. That's one of the better ways to prevent this," said Doctor Geeting.
The Hoffmans have created a fund in honor of Lily. All of the donations will be used to raise awareness of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Central Pennsylvania.