The unofficial start to summer has kicked in and as kids trade in text books and homework for much-needed time in the great outdoors, it brings about feelings of nostalgia for those lazy, carefree days. Unfortunately, it's quite literally not all fun and games. Not only do we, as parents, have to worry about sun protection, water safety, and bug bites, one mom has just shared an alarming story about a dangerous tick bite that threatened her daughter's health.
Ticks are an unpleasant thought to begin with, but mom Jessica Griffin enduring a harrowing experience with her five-year-old daughter Kailyn that will give you nightmares (and make you check your child after any time outdoors).
In an interview with ABC News, Jessica explains that Kailyn went to sleep on a Tuesday night, just as she would any other evening. But the next day, upon waking up, the little girl was unable to walk. Each time she tried standing up from her bed, she would fall.
"I went to brush her hair to put it in a ponytail and noticed she could barely talk and when I pulled her hair back that’s when I seen the tick," she recalls.
Jessica immediately took Kailyn to the emergency room, where doctors began doing blood work and even a CT scan before diagnosing her with tick paralysis. A condition, quite frankly, we never knew existed (nor did the girl's mom until that day).
"PLEASE for the love of god check your kids for ticks! It’s more common in children than it is adults!" she wrote in a Facebook post. "Scary is an UNDERSTATEMENT! She has been such a champ throughout this whole ordeal!"
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, tick paralysis is caused by more than 40 specials of ticks, often killing animals and livestock in the U.S. While the ALDF admits that it's rare to find a human case of the illness, when they do occur, it's typically in kids under 10 years of age.
When a female tick produce a toxin in its salivary glands, it can be transmitted to its host (in this case, the young girl) during feeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that paralysis typically goes away within 24 hours of removing the tick.
Though tick paralysis is rare, it's important to remember these tiny pests can, indeed, be dangerous and parents should take preventative measures to help avoid little ones from bites.
The CDC recommends you treat clothing with products containing 0.5% permethrin and use EPA-approved insect repellents. They also warn parents not to use insect repellent on infants younger than 2 months and avoid products containing Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on kids under 3 years old.
Additionally, they suggest you "avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter" and "walk in the center of trails."
Thankfully Kailyn fully recovered from her tick paralysis episode, but Jessica hopes that by spreading the word about their own brush with danger other families will be spared a similar episode.