When I was a child, my father and I loved to go camping.
We would sluice through streams and stop at primitive campsites, always making sure to take precautions against snakes, wild dogs, and other less-than-friendly critters.
It was easy, though, to forget that smaller threats lurked all around us. It’s something that Jessica Griffin of Genada, Mississippi, learned firsthand.
On June 6, she went to wake her 5-year-old daughter Kailyn Kirk. That was when the trouble started.
“We had a T-ball game the night before, and she was perfectly fine,” Griffin explained to Mississippi News Now. “We came home, took a bath, washed her hair and everything …
“She woke up yesterday morning to get ready to go to daycare, and as soon as her feet hit the floor, she fell. She would try to stand and walk, but would continue to fall, so I thought her legs were just asleep.”
Something far more insidious was at work. As Griffin brushed Kailyn’s hair, she noticed that the little girl was having a difficult time speaking. The she made a horrifying discovery.
“When I pulled her hair back, that’s when I saw the tick,” she said. “I immediately called my husband who is in Iraq, freaking out over the phone asking what could be going on, and he told me that I needed to put the tick in a Ziploc bag and take it with me straight to the E.R. and that it was more than likely tick paralysis.”
That was indeed the affliction that had robbed Kailyn of her coordination. Prevalent throughout America’s east coast and midwest, ticks can spread a number of illnesses.
Lyme Disease, which can lead to lingering symptoms such as joint pain and fatigue in a small percentage of people, is the most commonly known tick-borne sickness.
However, the little insects can also spread Powassan virus (which causes fever, headache, and vomiting) and Anaplasmosis (which leads to fever, headache, and chills).
The Centers for Disease Control recommends showering within two hours of completing any outdoor activity to reduce the chance of getting bitten by a tick. Insect repellents and full-body checks can also help keep you from getting ill.
Fortunately, Kailyn’s story had a happy ending. After treatment, the 5-year-old soon recovered — and walked out of the hospital on her own.
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