When spending time outdoors during the summer, parents need to be aware of the dangers posed by one tiny insect that can be easily overlooked if one isn’t looking for it. Many people have heard about Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. However, another less talked about danger is tick paralysis, a life-threatening condition caused by these deadly insects. One mother from Cincinnati, Ohio, nearly lost her 5-year-old daughter to tick paralysis and is now working to raise awareness about the topic, according to Today.
Averey Mell went to bed one night perfectly healthy, as far as her mother knew. However, the next day she could hardly stand up straight and collapsed on her way to the bathroom. At first, her mother, Sami Mell, thought that she was experiencing vertigo. However, Averey’s condition continued to worsen until eventually, her mother felt it was necessary to take her to the hospital.
In a short amount of time, little Averey wound up in the intensive care unit of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and was placed on a ventilator that did the breathing for her. It wasn’t until after they were already at the intensive care unit that Sami noticed something unusual on her daughter’s scalp.
“When we got to ICU I noticed a lump in her hair. It was a tick. I searched her and found another at the back of her head in [the] neckline,” Sami said.
Sami informed the doctors of what she discovered and they soon diagnosed her with tick paralysis. At that point, the engorged ticks had already reached the size of a quarter. Once doctors removed them, the little girl quickly began to show signs of improvement.
Luckily, Averey was later able to breathe on her own again. After receiving further treatment, she was eventually allowed to return home and go back to her normal life. Today, her family is just grateful they didn’t lose her to the frightening condition.
“She is fighting still every step of the way. Which is so reassuring because I know my spunky, headstrong daughter is still here. Thank you all for the prayers,” Sami wrote, informing friends and family of her daughter’s condition in an emotional Facebook post.
— Mayo Clinic (@MayoClinic) August 16, 2019
So what exactly happens when a tick bites through the skin? If it isn’t removed in time, the poison the tick releases can enter a person’s bloodstream and attack the nervous system. Thus, it is important that parents stay hyper-vigilant this summer and keep an eye out for ticks on their children.