What You Need to Know: Ticks

Tick bite causes girl to become temporarily paralyzed

Kailyn Kirk’s mom Jessica Griffin didn’t know what was wrong when her daughter woke up Wednesday, Mississippi News Now reported.

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“We had a T-ball game the night before and she was perfectly fine. We came home, took a bath, washed her hair and everything and I never saw the tick,” Griffin told Mississippi News Now.

But when Kailyn tried to stand or work, she fell. They originally thought her legs were asleep, but when Griffin was doing her daughter’s hair, she noticed a tick on her daughter’s scalp.

Kailyn was also barely able to talk, her mother told reporters.

The mom and her daughter went to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for testing.

Doctors diagnosed Kailyn with tick paralysis. 

The condition happens when a toxin from the tick’s saliva blocks a person’s nerve function, the “Today” show reported last year. The paralysis usually starts at the lower extremities and then moves upward. When the tick is removed, the symptoms begin to disappear.

“They usually start to go away within hours of the removal of the tick,” Dr. Eugene Shapiro told “Today” last year after another child was diagnosed with the condition. Shaprio is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Yale School of Medicine. 

But tick paralysis can be fatal if it attacks respiratory muscles and the patient can’t breathe, “Today” reported

What is the best way to prevent being bitten by a tick?

A close up of an adult female, an adult male, nymph and larva tick
Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Know where to expect ticks.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products that contain .5 percent permethrin.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents listed here, but don’t use them on babies younger than 2 months old and do not use products with OLE or PME on children under 3.
  • Avoid wooded, brushy areas and walk in the center of trails.

Once you get home: 

  • Check clothing for ticks.
  • Shower shortly after returning from outside.
  • Check your body for ticks, especially under your arms, around your ears, inside your belly button, the backs of your knees, in and around hair, between your legs and around your waist.
  • Examine gear and pets, too.

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