When Amanda Lewis noticed that her daughter, Evelyn, was a little fussier than usual during her bath, she didn't think much of it at the time. But the next morning, Evelyn had a hard time standing up and could barely walk or crawl. With that, Lewis and her husband sent a video to family and friends for insight. Eventually, after Evelyn's symptoms appeared to worsen, they ended up taking their daughter to the ER.
After doctors diagnosed Evelyn with a rare condition known as tick paralysis, Lewis shared her video publicly on Facebook to warn others.
"The doctor talked to us for a minute and said over the past 15 years he had seen about 7 or 8 children her age with identical symptoms and more than likely she had a tick," Lewis posted on Facebook. "They looked her over, combed through her hair really well and sure enough found a tick hiding in her hair."
Tick paralysis, according to the CDC, is thought to occur when a tick transmits toxins in its saliva to a host. In this case, the toxin was transmitted to Evelyn through her scalp.
The condition causes paralysis as well as fatigue and muscle pains, which the CDC says can mimic neurological conditions (e.g. Guillain-Barré syndrome). As you can see in the video, which has been shared over 500,000 times at the time of writing, Evelyn appears to have a hard time standing up on her own, likely due to some weakness in her limbs. However, the CDC also notes that the symptoms of tick paralysis usually subside within 24 hours of removing the tick.
"I feel awful for not having seen the little bugger sooner but I never would have even thought to look for a tick," Lewis wrote in her post. "It's crazy that a little bug can do this!" According to the post, doctors in the ER managed to remove the tick and monitored Evelyn's progress briefly before allowing her to go home.
"I'm so thankful that we got her to the doctor quickly before her symptoms got worse and that the doctor in the ER that day had experience with this," she wrote.
Lewis's post is an early reminder that, although we might be excited about summer, the warmer weather is also bringing tick season. As Lenore Brancato, MD, a clinical assistant professor at New York University Langone Medical Center, told us last year, the best way to prevent tick bits is to use a bug spray that contains tick-repelling DEET ingredients and to wear light-colored clothing. That way, it'll be easier to spot ticks if they try to attach themselves to you.
Though Lewis and her family live in eastern Oregon, ticks can be found across the U.S., which is why she's issuing this warning to everyone else. "My husband and I are still in shock that this happened to our baby girl and I'm glad we were able to spread some awareness about this," she wrote. "It's not terribly common for this to happen but it's good to be aware that if your children or pets start having weakness in their limbs to look for a tick!"
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