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5-Year-Old-Girl Suddenly Couldn't Move And Speak Well After Tick Bite

Jun 13, 2018 07:59 AM EDT
A 5-year-old girl gets severely sick from a tick, struggling to stand or speak after getting bitten.
(Photo : Pixabay)

A 5-year-old from Grenada, Mississippi collapsed without warning when she got up in the morning. Doctors diagnosed her with a case of tick paralysis.

Scary Temporary Paralysis

It's not common for young children to be unable to move or speak, but it happened to young Kailyn Kirk on the morning of Wednesday, June 6.

"We had a T-ball game the night before and she was perfectly fine," her mother Jessica Griffin recalls in Mississippi News Now, adding that she didn't see the tick that night even after washing Kailyn's hair in the bath. "She woke up yesterday morning to get ready to go to daycare, and as soon as her feet hit the floor, she fell. She would try to stand and walk but would continue to fall so I thought her legs were just asleep."

It was only when Griffin was fixing the young girl's hair that she realized there was a tick attached to her daughter's scalp, buried under her hair. At that point, she recalls, Kailyn could barely speak.

Griffin's husband, who is in Iraq, told her to take Kailyn and the tick to the emergency room immediately.

At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Kailyn had to have blood tests and CT scan. Following the tests and examinations, the physicians told them that it was tick paralysis.

A worried Griffin took to Facebook to share the terrifying experience of finding her daughter unable to move or speak. She warned other parents to watch out for tick bites, saying that it's dangerous and tends to afflict children.

"Please for the love of god check your kids for ticks!" she wrote on the social media platform. "It's more common in children than it is adults!"

Tick Paralysis

According to Ben Brock, M.D. of UMMC, tick paralysis occurs occasionally when female ticks are attached to the neck or scalp. Tick bites on other body parts don't tend to cause it and it's more common in girls, since they usually have longer hair that can leave the parasite hidden for longer.

The doctor adds that the phenomenon is still not fully understood at present.

"It may be due to a toxin the tick injects into the host," Brock says, explaining that symptoms of tick paralysis usually comes after the parasite has already been attached to the host for four to seven days.

Tick paralysis is often misdiagnosed, but it's usually more sudden than other diseases.

Treatment is simply the removal of the tick, which leads to a quick recovery. Kailyn, for example, is already fully recovered.

Summer usually sees an increase in tick-related diagnoses, especially for people who love the outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends being on the lookout for ticks on clothing and pets after spending time outside. Dousing clothes in permethrin have also been shown to help.

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