All parents want to protect their children from any harm, but in this case, the tiniest of things left a five-year-old girl temporarily paralyzed and unable to speak. Jessica Griffin said that her daughter, Kailyn Kirk, had fallen out of bed when she got up for school and she believed initially that her daughter’s legs were asleep. While getting her daughter ready for the day, Jessica noticed that Kailyn’s speech was slurred as well.
Then she found a possible culprit: a tick and a bite on her daughter’s scalp.
Jessica rushed her daughter to the emergency room, where she received blood tests and a CT scan and was diagnosed with tick paralysis, which is caused by a neurotoxin found in the bug’s saliva. There was hopeful news, however, as doctors told Jessica that once the tick was removed, Kailyn would see improvements in her condition, with it fully resolving between 12 and 24 hours.
What a scary thing to happen! Jessica is now sharing her story to remind parents how important it is to check their kids for ticks because there could be worse symptoms, including respiratory failure, if the ticks aren’t found soon enough. In some cases, there can be tragic outcomes.
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, tick paralysis comes from the tick’s saliva that is transmitted to its host, which is believed to block nerve function. Symptoms can linger between two and seven days and generally include fatigue, leg numbness and muscle pains. The paralysis can develop quickly, beginning with the lower extremities and work upwards, with the possibility of tongue and facial paralysis if the tick is not removed.
The CDC recommends that people who have been outdoors shower within two hours of coming indoors to wash off ticks that haven’t attached themselves and help reduce the chance for contracting Lyme disease.
Jessica hadn’t noticed anything off with her daughter until that morning before school, as she told Mississippi News Now: “We had a T-ball game the night before and she was perfectly fine. We came home, took a bath, washed her hair and everything and I never saw the tick.”
She also told ABC News: “I went to brush her hair to put it in a ponytail and noticed she could barely talk,” adding, “When I pulled her hair back, that’s when I saw the tick. I immediately called my husband, who is in Iraq, freaking out over the phone asking what could be going on.”
Jessica continued: “He told me that I needed to put the tick in a Ziploc bag and take it with me straight to the ER.”
The doctor explained that there would be improvement over the next day and Jessica noted, “and sure enough within that 12 hours she was back to being her silly self, running and playing.”
She shared photos on Facebook of the tick bite and her daughter’s scalp and it was shared hundreds of thousands of times. She wrote: “PLEASE for the love of god check your kids for ticks! It’s more common in children than it is adults! Scary is an UNDERSTATEMENT!”