Mother and amateur boxer floored by insect bite

Amateur boxer who was left in a wheelchair after being bitten by a TICK has been forced to close her beauty salon and can barely look after her children because she’s too weak to get out of bed

  • Zara Taylor, 37, from Colchester, was active mother-of-three who loved boxing
  • After a run in the countryside with her mother, she noticed a rash on her arm 
  • Doctors dismissed her sickness and misdiagnosed her multiple times
  • Private tests showed she was bitten by a tick and now suffers from Lyme disease
  • Mother-of-three says she is often so exhausted she can’t get out of bed  

A mother-of-three revealed how she has been left using a wheelchair after contracting Lyme disease. 

Zara Taylor, 37, from Colchester, Essex, fought as an amateur boxer and thought nothing of enduring punishing training sessions before battling it out in the ring. 

But her health rapidly deteriorated after she was bitten by a tick while cross-country running near home. 

Doctors refused to listen when Zara presented with symptoms, even as she urged them to consider Lyme disease after spotting a tell-tale rash on her arm.

The once fit and active mother is now so weak she struggles to get out of bed.

Zara Taylor, 37, from Colchester, Essex, has been left in a wheelchair and so exhausted she can barely get out of bed after contracting Lyme disease

Super-fit Zara used to fight in amateur boxing matches and trained weekly. Pictured: In the ring during one of her bouts 

‘Training for boxing is about as hard and as physical as it gets, and I prided myself on my fitness,’ Zara said.

‘I conditioned my body to withstand the rigours of the sport and would brush off a right hook to the chin or a sucker punch in the stomach, but this has literally knocked me for six.’

She added: ‘I’m living each day as it comes and praying for a cure, but I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.’ 

Zara used to train weekly for boxing matches, and juggled her love of the gruelling sport while running her own beauty salon in Colchester, Essex.

Zara, pictured before she fell ill, ran her own beauty salon and juggled work with being a mother to her three children

Zara pictured with boxer Anthony Joshua before her illness. When she fell ill, doctors initially dismissed her symptoms as flue, before she was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease

Her world was turned upside down when she spotted a rash on her arm after running in the countryside with her mother Angela, 61, near the family’s small-holding in the Suffolk countryside.

Zara said: ‘We have a few sheep and horses and at first I thought it was ringworm. 

‘I thought the rash would vanish on its own, but it kept getting bigger – and then I collapsed while I was out jogging.’ 

She says a GP also dismissed her symptoms as ringworm.

developed an erythema marginatum rash on her stomach, a symptom of Lyme disease. The condition has developed into chronic Lyme, attacking her nervous symptom

Zara has had her lymph nodes removed as part of her treatment for Lyme disease

She returned for a second opinion when she suffered hair loss, slurred speech and tiredness, and was told she was probably suffering from stress. 

‘But when I found a dead tick in my bed, I researched my symptoms and they fit with Lyme,’ she said. 


Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks. It’s usually easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

Many people with early symptoms of Lyme disease develop a circular red skin rash around a tick bite.

The rash can appear up to 3 months after being bitten by a tick and usually lasts for several weeks. Most rashes appear within the first 4 weeks.

Not everyone with Lyme disease gets the rash. 

Some people also have flu-like symptoms in the early stages, such as:

  • headaches 
  • muscle and joint pain 
  • tiredness and loss of energy 
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery

‘My doctor disagreed and I was refused a blood test. I just got more and more ill – but no one would listen.’ 

Studies show the UK’s South East is now one of the worst regions in Europe for ticks infected with the bug which causes Lyme. 

The blood-sucking insects are found on wild animals including birds and hedgehogs, as well as on pets and in undergrowth. 

They attach themselves to humans and can drink ten times their own bodyweight in blood. 

Most bites are harmless but infected ticks can pass on Lyme-causing bacteria.

Early stages of the disease are like flu and with a quick diagnosis can be treated with strong antibiotics.

But left unchecked – as in Zara’s case – it can develop into chronic Lyme, which damages the nervous system causing long-term brain fog, fatigue, joint pain and tremors.

Zara says she continued to pressure doctors as her health plummeted.

She developed an erythema marginatum rash – a symptom of Lyme – on her stomach, and lost control of her bowel. 

Zara endured months of tests as doctors dismissed her with suffering from depression and stress. She was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease which has ravaged her health

She was dismissed as suffering from depression before having a lumbar puncture for tests on a sample of cerebrospinal fluid.

They revealed the fluid contained ‘oligoclonal bands’, often a sign of Multiple Sclerosis. 

They can also indicate neuroborreliosis, a disorder of the nervous system caused by Lyme.

Subsequent blood tests carried out at a private clinic eventually confirmed Zara had three strains of Lyme. 

‘By then, it was too late,’ she said. ‘The damage was done. I went from boxing and cross country running to using a walking stick and – now – a wheelchair. 

Zara Taylor used to fight in amateur boxing matches and trained weekly, but now she can barely leave the house or even get out of bed 

‘My health has been absolutely ravaged to the point where I can’t even look after myself properly.’

Zara and her three children – boys John, 15, and Charles, 10, plus her daughter, six – now live with her mother Angela and her husband John, 67, in Sudbury, Suffolk.

She said: ‘This disease has taken everything from me. I’ve lost my health, my business and my independence. 

‘There are days when I’m so fatigued I can’t even get out of bed. 

She went on: ‘I try my best to be a mum to the children, and they’re so understanding. 

‘But the reality is I just can’t take them out to the cinema or for walks in the woods.  I barely leave the house unless it’s for hospital appointments.’

Zara used to run her own hair and beauty salon before she got ill from Lyme disease which has left her in a wheelchair

She advised others to be persistent with their doctors, and warned that many doctors could easily confuse the early stages of the disease with other illnesses.

She said: ‘Doctors need to be more aware of the symptoms of Lyme in its early stages. They’re easily confused with flu. 

‘If you think you’ve bitten by a tick, be persistent with the NHS and if you still get nowhere consider going private.’

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