In a now-viral Facebook post, mom Amanda Lewis wrote about a scary thing that happened to her daughter, Evelyn. They live in Eastern Oregon, where ticks are everywhere this time of year. As Scary Mommy reports, deer ticks can sometimes cause Lyme disease, but there's something else that can happen if your child is bitten by a tick and it's much less well-known. It's called tick paralysis.
According to Amanda Lewis' post, Evelyn "started acting weird" around bedtime. After her bath, the little girl didn't want to stand up to get into her pajamas. So Lewis helped her and then spent the night in bed with her, claiming she was "a little fussy." By the next morning, Evelyn could barely walk, crawl, or use her arms. Lewis and her husband took video of her daughter, and sent it to friends and family to see if anyone had any idea what was going on. They also took Evelyn to the emergency room, because her symptoms were getting worse.
The ER doctor had an idea about her diagnosis, although according to Lewis' post, he claimed that he'd only seen seven or eight cases in his 15 years of medical work. He suspected that Evelyn had a tick on her, and sure enough, they found one in her hair.
According to the Companion Vector-Borne Diseases website, tick paralysis (which can also occur in dogs) is caused when the tick's salivary gland produces and transmits a neurotoxin to its host. The site reports:
“In humans, tick paralysis is most likely to be seen in children. The symptoms in humans are similar to the clinical signs in dogs. About two thirds of human cases are seen in young females. The tick bites are most often found at the head and there at the transition of hair and neck."
CBVD states that the first symptoms of tick paralysis are irritability, restlessness, and fatigue. It continues, “During the next 12 to 24 hours the muscles innervated by facial nerves become weak. Without removal of the tick, finally the respiratory muscles will fail and the patient will die of respiratory failure.” YIKES.
But once the tick is removed, the symptoms begin to abate fairly quickly. Amanda Lewis updated her post, writing, “Evelyn is doing much better. It took her until the next morning to start acting like herself again. She is now pretty much completely back to her feisty little self. She complains a lot about her head itching but otherwise she’s just fine."
This is a really useful bit of information for any parents (or dog owners!) who live in an area with an abundance of ticks. It's also yet another thing parents have to worry about, but better safe than sorry, right?