Cincinnati area girl, 5, diagnosed with rare tick paralysis

Updated: Aug. 7, 2019 at 10:32 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Clermont County mother is sharing her 5-year-old daughter’s health scare in hopes of making parents more aware about tick-related illnesses.

Her condition baffled doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital until they got into the ICU and the little girl’s mom, Sami Mell, found two Dogwood ticks the size of a quarter on her head and hiding behind her ear.

5-year-old Averey got home from the hospital on Tuesday.

Specialists told the family they’ve never seen anything like this before. She was diagnosed with tick paralysis.

"It could have been at East Fork, it could have been in our backyard,” Mell said.

She said she knew something was wrong when her daughter’s condition began going downhill fast.

"I fell face first into the bathroom,” Averey said.

According to the CDC, tick paralysis is a rare disease caused by a toxin in tick saliva. The symptoms include acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis that is often confused with other neurologic disorders or diseases. Within 24 hours of removing the tick, the paralysis typically subsides.

"She couldn’t feed herself, she got to the point where she couldn’t breathe on her own,” Mell said. “They were prepared for her lungs not to work on her own.”

She said it was so bad, Averey could have stopped breathing in about an hour.

"The infectious disease doctor of 30 years said, he’s never seen nothing like it,” Avery’s grandfather, Dave Goslin, said.

Averey, 5, began recovering once the ticks were removed.
Averey, 5, began recovering once the ticks were removed.

Her condition began to improve dramatically as soon as the ticks were gone.

"It’s just pulling off the ticks, that’s the treatment,” Mell said.

Averey has to see a neurologist at Children’s for a follow-up visit, but other than that she shows no signs of having any side effects.

Mell advises all parents to always check your kids for ticks after they’re done playing outside.

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