After Her Daughter Was Paralyzed by a Tick, This Mom's Warning Is Going Viral on Facebook
“I was just thinking that her legs were asleep until I noticed that she couldn’t hardly talk,” Griffin wrote. She went to brush Kailyn’s hair and found a tick, she told ABC News, then immediately took her daughter to the emergency room. “After tons of blood work and a CT of the head,” she wrote, Kailyn was diagnosed with tick paralysis. Now, Griffin is warning other parents to be on the lookout for similar symptoms in their kids.
The story has a happy ending: After being admitted for observation, Kailyn walked out of the hospital normally later that day, Griffin posted in an update.
“I had no intentions for that post to go as viral as it has, but I’m so glad because now I know I’m not the only one out there that hasn’t ever heard of tick paralysis!” Griffin wrote the following day on Facebook. ”Make sure you check those babies in EVERY crease of their body!” Her original post has since been shared more than 400,000 times.
So what is tick paralysis?
Tick paralysis can be caused by several species of ticks, including deer ticks (which can also carry Lyme disease) and dog ticks (which can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tick paralysis is a “rare disease thought to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva.” It’s often confused with other neurologic disorders or diseases, including Guillain-Barre syndrome and botulism.
Paralysis typically starts in the lower body and makes its way up the body; fortunately, symptoms usually subside within 24 hours of removing the tick that’s responsible. Most human cases of tick paralysis in the United States have been reported in children or elderly adults.
Recent research from the CDC found that cases of diseases spread by ticks doubled from 2004 to 2016, and experts warn that climate change continues to fuel growth in the tick population, especially in the Northeast and northern Midwest where Lyme disease is most prevalent. Recent reports about an apparent uptick in cases of Powassan virus—a rare but dangerous virus also carried by deer ticks—also have health officials and outdoor enthusiasts concerned.
If you find a tick that’s already attached itself to your or your child’s skin, experts say it’s best to use a pair of tweezers to grasp as close to the skin as possible, then pull straight out. Strategies for avoiding tick bites in the first place—like wearing light colors, long pants, and insect repellant while spending time outdoors, and putting clothes in the dryer and showering as soon as you come inside—are also smart for the whole family.