It’s hard to overstate how virulent the tick population is expected to be in the United States from now through below the days of below freezing temperatures arrive. Caution is advised by public health officials. A recent health emergency for a family in Oregon is a vivid reminder of the vigilance needed to prevent tick-related health issues.
The video above has been shared on Facebook more than 500,000 times, serving as an important preventive message to parents and all adult caregivers. Amanda Lewis, the mother of 3-year-old Evelyn, the subject of the video, along with husband Lantz Lewis, posted the video of their daughter’s then-unexplained sudden symptoms of fussiness and then the inability to walk or crawl.
The parents took a video of the toddler’s struggles to share with family members in order to learn if anyone had any idea what the cause might be. Failing to find any answers there, and with Evelyn’s symptoms becoming worse, her parents took her to the emergency room for evaluation.
The doctor there said he had seen such symptoms about seven or eight times in the past 15 years in other children of Evelyn’s age, explaining to the concerned parents that the cause was likely to be a tick. Sure enough, when nurses checked the child over, they discovered a tick attached to her scalp. The condition known as tick paralysis was what was causing the toddler’s symptoms.
Relieved that the cause of the problem was determined and learning that their daughter’s symptoms should begin to abate, the Lewis’ decided to post the video to social media to alert others to the symptoms of the potentially fatal disease – to both humans and dogs. It is also a cautionary reminder for everyone to be vigilant about ticks, both to try and avoid them and to check pets, children and adults for the presence of ticks after having been outdoors.
The toddler was more herself again by the next morning and her mother reports Evelyn is now doing much better. What could have progressed into respiratory failure had the tick now been found and removed was averted, thanks to the prompt actions of the parents and a vigilant emergency room staff.
What is Tick Paralysis?
Unlike most tick-related conditions, which are actually infectious diseases caused by a variety of bacteria, tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin secreted by any of 40 different ticks. In the United States, the two types of ticks most often associated with causing tick paralysis are the American Dog Tick and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.
Tick paralysis is much more common in dogs than in humans and can be fatal to both if the offending tick is not removed. In humans, it is usually children under the age of 10 who are affected, and more frequently females than males. The scalp or skin of the neck near the hairline is the most common area of tick attachment in tick paralysis.
The neurotoxin secreted by the tick enters the individual’s bloodstream, with symptoms usually beginning within five to seven days of the bite. Flaccid paralysis, weakened muscles, begins in the lower extremities and works it way up the body if left untreated. Facial muscles will become weak and the neurotoxin will affect the respiratory muscles resulting in respiratory failure if the attached tick or ticks are not removed.
Treatment is generally just the removal of the attached tick or ticks followed by observation of the affected person.
Additional Information on How to Avoid Ticks and How to Remove an Attached Tick and Symptoms of Tick-Related Diseases
How to Avoid Ticks, including How to Remove an Attached Tick
Signs and Symptoms of Tick-related Diseases
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