Tick Bites 5-Year-Old Girl’s Head; She Woke Up Paralyzed


GRENADA, MS — When Jessica Griffin’s 5-year-old daughter Kailyn Kirk went to sleep the night of June 5, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The girl had been at a T-ball game the night before and was “perfectly fine,” Griffin told Mississippi News Now. They even washed the girl’s hair when they got back to their home.

But when the girl awoke the next morning, something wasn’t right. In a post on Facebook, Griffen, of Grenada, Mississippi, said her daughter “couldn’t walk.”

“I was just thinking that her legs were asleep until I noticed that she couldn’t hardly talk,” writes Griffin.

She tells the TV station that the girl fell “as soon as her feet hit the floor.” When she brushed Kailyn’s hair, she saw it: a tick had latched on to the girl’s scalp.

“I went to brush her hair to put it in a ponytail and noticed she could barely talk,” Griffin said. “When I pulled her hair back, that’s when I saw the tick. 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 ziplock bag and take it with me straight to the ER and that it was more than likely tick paralysis.”

So that’s exactly what she did.

Griffen rushed her daughter to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, she writes. Doctors conducted blood tests. The ailing girl also received a CAT scan.

Then they got the diagnosis: tick paralysis.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tick paralysis is a rare disease believed to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva. The symptoms: “acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis.” Within a day of removing the tick, the paralysis usually subsides, the agency says.

Photos that Griffen posted on Facebook showed a large, brown tick in a plastic bag, and a small red bump on the girl’s scalp where it had latched on. Now, she’s warning other parents of the dangers of ticks.

“PLEASE for the love of god check your kids for ticks! It’s more common in children than it is adults!” she writes. The post has been shared more than 413,000 times and received more than 107,000 comments.

Griffen posted later that day that Kailyn’s symptoms had, indeed, subsided after the tick was removed.

“Look who is WALKING out of the hospital!! Everything is completely back to normal,” she wrote.

The following day, Griffen write that while she didn’t plan to become famous — her Facebook has been “flooded” with messages from across the country — she says she’s glad to hear that she’s not the only one who’s experienced tick paralysis.

“It’s definitely a thing and we experienced it first hand,” she writes. “Make sure you check those babies in EVERY crease of their body! Kailyn has fully recovered and hasn’t slowed down since her feet hit that floor this morning.”

Patch has reached out to Griffen and will update when we hear back.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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