A Mississippi girl is lucky to be alive this week after contracting a rare tick-borne disease that temporarily cost her the ability to walk, Yahoo News is reporting.
It’s not clear where or how Kailyn Griffin, who is 5 years old, got a tick embedded in her scalp. But on Wednesday morning, as mom Jessica Griffin was getting the young lass ready for school, she noticed behavior that’s out of character for the young girl. Mom picked Kailyn up out of bed, and as soon as the girl’s feet hit the floor, she fell over.
Mom at first thought that maybe Kailyn had slept in an awkward position and her legs had gone numb, according to a Facebook post.
“She would try to stand and walk but would continue to fall so I thought her legs were just asleep.”
However, when Jessica started combing her daughter’s hair, she got a horrifying realization.
“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 [sic] the tick.”
The little girl was immediately rushed to a hospital, where doctors confirmed that she’d been suffering from tick paralysis.
Unlike other tick-borne diseases, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease, tick paralysis isn’t caused by another organism living within the tick, but rather, by the tick itself. Specifically, the insect’s saliva releases a toxin, causing paralysis, inability to speak, and other symptoms. If the tick is left in the victim for too long, it can lead to respiratory failure and even death.
Fortunately, tick paralysis is easy to treat: simply remove the tick and the symptoms will subside with 12 to 24 hours — that is, if you remove the tick properly. Experts say you should grasp the tick as close to the victim’s skin as possible in order to make sure you remove its head, else it will stay in the skin and the disease will progress.
Fortunately for Kailyn, she made a quick recovery and is now something of a social media star, Jessica’s post having gotten tens of thousands of Facebook reactions and shares. Jessica says that Kailyn told her, “It’s weird being famous.”
Fun and laughter aside, Jessica wants her readers to be aware that tick paralysis is both real and dangerous.
“Now I know I’m not the only one out there that hasn’t ever heard of TICK PARALYSIS! It’s definitely a thing and we experienced it first hand! Make sure you check those babies in EVERY crease of their body! Kailyn has fully recovered and hasn’t slowed down since her feet hit that floor this morning.”