Everything seemed normal with 5-year-old Kailyn Kirk last Tuesday. Her mom, Jessica Griffin, told Mississippi News Now that they came home from a T-ball game and took a bath that night. But when Kailyn woke up the next morning to go to daycare, she fell as soon as her feet hit the floor. Every time she tried to stand, she would keep falling.
The Grenada, Mississippi, mom thought it was because her legs were asleep at first. But the little girl was also having trouble talking. It wasn't until she was brushing Kailyn's hair and pulling it back into a ponytail that she spotted a tick.
"I immediately called my husband, who is in Iraq, freaking out over the phone asking what could be going on, and he told me that I needed to put the tick in a zip-lock bag and take it with me straight to the E.R. and that it was more than likely tick paralysis," she told Mississippi News Now.
At the hospital, the doctors did blood tests and performed a CT scan to confirm that Kailyn did, in fact, have tick paralysis.
According to the National Institutes of Health, tick paralysis is a rare condition thought to be caused by female ticks. After the arachnid eats a blood meal and is engorged, it secretes a neurotoxin. Symptoms such as an unsteady gait, muscle weakness, breathing difficulties and flu-like symptoms can occur, with paralysis starting from the lower body and moving up. Tick paralysis occurs mostly in the spring and early summer, and is reported more commonly in children, probably because of their smaller body mass. Symptoms tend to appear four to seven days after a tick bite and go away within 24 hours of removing the tick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The doctors said the child would return to normal between 12 and 24 hours, and sure enough, after 12 hours, Kailyn was back to her usual self.
"Look who is walking out of the hospital! Everything is completely back to normal!" Griffin wrote on Facebook.
The grateful mom is hoping this experience will encourage parents to check their children for ticks on every surface and in every crease of their bodies.