Mom Warns Other Parents After Daughter Contracts Tick Paralysis

tick paralysis

One Mississippi mom is warning other parents today after her 5-year-old daughter was bitten by a tick and suffered tick paralysis. Jessica Griffin says her daughter Kailyn was fine and “perfectly normal” the night of June 5th, but when she awoke the morning of June 6th to get ready for daycare, she could not walk.

“She woke up yesterday morning to get ready to go to daycare and as soon as her feet hit the floor she fell,” Jessica told ABC News on Sunday. “She would try to stand and walk but would continue to fall so I thought her legs were just asleep.

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When Griffin went to brush her daughter’s hair into a ponytail, she also noticed her daughter “could barely talk.” Then, to her horror, she saw a tick on Kailyn’s scalp.

Griffin immediately took her daughter to the emergency room, where at CT scan and blood tests confirmed the diagnosis of tick paralysis, which is thought by the Centers for Disease Control to be caused by a toxin in the tick’s saliva. It usually abates within twenty-four hours of the tick being removed.

tick paralysis
Photo:Jessica Griffin, Facebook

Griffin, like many parents, had no idea a tick bite could have such devastating symptoms.

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“I honestly have never even heard of that before,” she said. “Her pediatrician said it had sucked so much over the night that it had gotten that big and released a toxin.”

As the doctors predicted, less than twenty-four hours after the tick was removed, Kailyn’s tick paralysis left her little body, and her mom says, “she was back to being her silly self, running and playing.”

Wanting to spread awareness about tick paralysis to other parents, Griffin did as many of us do: she took to Facebook to tell Kailyn’s story.

“Please, for the love of God, check your kids for ticks! It’s more common in children than it is adults,” she wrote on her page last week. “Prayers for this baby! Scary is a UNDERSTATEMENT! She has been such a champ throughout this whole ordeal.”

Griffin’s post has been shared over 400,000 times by others to help spread the word about tick paralysis and the importance of checking your kiddo over for ticks after a day of outside play. In addition to the devastating Lyme disease that ticks carry, tick paralysis is also a super scary tick bite effect to watch out for.

Happily, little Kailyn is doing great, and her mom’s quick actions in rushing her to the emergency room, along with great medical care, are to big reasons why. Hopefully her desire to spread the word and make all of us aware of tick paralysis will help many more children have a safe and happy summer. However, ticks are a part of the great outdoors and some of our kids WILL get bit by them — so what should parents do if and when that happens?

It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible, and KidsHealth.org has some simple instructions for parents.

  1. Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin.
  2. Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side. If part of the tick stays in the skin, don’t worry. It will eventually come out on its own.
  3. Release the tick into a jar or zip-locked bag in case you want to have it identified later on.
  4. Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water.
  5. Swab the bite site with alcohol.

Check out the rest of KidsHealth.org’s page on ticks to learn the signs and symptoms of tick-related diseases –the more you know, the safer you and your family will be!


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and the editor of For Every Mom. You can email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter.