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Oregon Girl Temporarily Paralyzed After Undetected Tick Bite

22 May 2017, 9:30 am EDT By Alexandra Lozovschi Tech Times
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Lyme disease and the Powassan virus are not the only health concerns associated with tick bites. A little girl in Oregon was diagnosed with tick paralysis after she unknowingly got bit by an American dog tick and became temporarily paralyzed.  ( Getty Images )

An Eastern Oregon mother took to Facebook to share the daunting experience her family went through after her daughter unknowingly got bit by a tick and ended up with tick paralysis.

Lyme disease is not the only thing to worry about when it comes to tick bites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ticks carry numerous infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

The CDC states ticks can spread multiple diseases, not just Lyme disease. The list of tick-borne diseases also includes Colorado tick fever, the Powassan virus, as well as a dozen other illnesses.

In the case of Amanda Lewis and her daughter, Evelyn, the culprit behind the incident was an American dog tick. This tick species doesn't typically carry Lyme disease.

However, it still managed to give the family quite a fright, causing the little girl to become temporarily paralyzed.

Unsuspected Tick Bite

In her Facebook post, Lewis tells the tale of how her daughter "started acting a little weird" the previous night and "want to stand up after her bath to get into her pajamas." By the following morning, the little girl was struggling to stand up.

"This morning she was having a hard time standing. She could barely walk, or crawl, and could hardly use her arms," wrote Lewis on May 13.

The concerned mother took a video of her daughter to record her symptoms, which she also uploaded on the internet.

According to Lewis, she captured the video footage with the intent to show it to family members, in hopes they would recognize the symptoms and figure out what had caused them.

Since the symptoms were getting worse, Lewis rushed her daughter to hospital, where she was immediately diagnosed with tick paralysis.

"The doctor talked to us for a minute and said over the past 15 years he had seen about seven or eight children her age with identical symptoms and more than likely she had a tick," Lewis wrote on social media.

Soon enough, the doctor found a tick in Evelyn's hair, after carefully examining the patient. Once the tick was removed, Evelyn's symptoms subsided and she has since then made a full recovery.

What Is Tick Paralysis?

Tick paralysis is a rare disease believed to be caused by the toxins in tick saliva, which enter the bloodstream while the insect is feeding. This condition can also affect dogs and is potentially fatal.

"Tick paralysis results from injection of a toxin from tick salivary glands during a blood meal. The toxin causes symptoms within 2-7 days, beginning with weakness in both legs that progresses to paralysis. The paralysis ascends to the trunk, arms, and head within hours and may lead to respiratory failure and death. The disease can present as acute ataxia without muscle weakness," Lewis wrote in her Facebook post, citing Wikipedia.

The CDC notes tick paralysis symptoms include acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis which can be easily mistaken for other neurologic disorders or diseases, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or botulism.

According to the CDC, the paralysis typically subsides within 24 hours after removing the tick. In Evelyn's case, she was up on her feet by the next morning.

Lewis posted the video of her daughter, which immediately went viral, to raise awareness of this rare disease.

"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," she said in her Facebook post.

Although the American dog tick is not as prevalent in Oregon as it used to be, the CDC warns the geographic ranges of ticks are expanding and infections from tick-borne diseases are steadily increasing.

"Ticks differ in their tolerance to heat, cold and aridity, making certain tick species more common than others in any given location in the United States. Different species transmit different diseases and this leads to differences in incidence of tick-borne diseases by geographic region in the US," shows the CDC.

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