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article imageTick paralysis in three-year-old highlights the risks from ticks

By Karen Graham     May 23, 2017 in Health
An Oregon family is breathing easier after having quite a scare last week when their three-year-old daughter, Evelyn, became cranky and appeared to be having trouble standing upright. After an ER visit, the couple found out a dog tick was the culprit.
"Evelyn started acting a little weird last night around bedtime. She didn't want to stand up after her bath to get into her pajamas. I helped her and got her in bed. She was a little fussy last night and I ended up sleeping in bed with her all night," Amanda Lewis posted on her Facebook page the next morning.
Amanda also posted a video that has now been viewed by over 64,000 people. In her post, she wrote that little Evelyn "was having a hard time standing. She could barely walk, or crawl, and could hardly use her arms." The family was hoping someone could give them an idea of what was going on but decided a trip to the hospital was needed right away.
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Evelyn's father, Lantz told CNN News that he has a history of a rare type of brain cancer usually found in kids, and his symptoms were similar, "so our minds started going to that."
The ER doctor told the family he had seen fewer than a dozen children with Evelyn's symptoms in the last 15 years and suggested the cause might be a tick bite. And sure enough, after running a comb through the child's hair, the doctor found a tick embedded on the back of her head.
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Teresa Phillips
Shortly thereafter, some gloves and a pair of tweezers took care of the problem. What the doctor found was a dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. By the next day, Evelyn was back to her old self although, for a couple days, she complained her head was itchy where the scab was.
The family was very surprised when the video went viral, but they hope it raises awareness of a little-known danger from being bitten by dog ticks. We might add also that this story is a good reason to be sure all family pets are protected from ticks and fleas.
Tick paralysis
In North America, most cases of tick paralysis occur from April to June, when adult Dermacentor ticks emerge from hibernation and actively seek hosts. Tick paralysis is more prevalent in domestic animals than in humans and is the only tick-borne disease that is not caused by an infectious organism.
Instead, tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin produced in the salivary glands of the female tick. After prolonged attachment, usually five to seven days, the neurotoxin is released in the host. Unlike other tick diseases, tick paralysis is chemically induced, and once the tick is removed, the symptoms subside.
More about Tick bites, dog tick, salivary fluid, neurotoxin, partial paralysis
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