Her daughter couldn’t stand up and couldn’t lift her arms. An Oregon-based mom didn’t know what was wrong until doctors found a single tick hiding in her daughter’s hair.
Now, with summer and time outdoors approaching, the family is warning other parents to thoroughly check for ticks and tick bites if their kids are grappling with strange symptoms or irregular behaviour.
“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…this morning she was having a hard time standing. She could barely walk, or crawl, and could hardly use her arms,” Amanda Lewis wrote in a Facebook post.
She included a video showing her daughter’s sudden lethargy. The clip has been viewed more than 20 million times.
Close family members watched the video but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. That’s when Lewis rushed her daughter to the emergency room.
There, experts knew what the culprit was right away.
“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. They looked her over, combed through her hair really well and sure enough found a tick hiding in her hair,” Lewis said.
Evelyn’s condition was called tick paralysis. It’s caused by over 40 species of ticks worldwide, including five in North America, and can occur in almost any region where ticks are found, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation.
Symptoms of tick paralysis typically kick in about five to seven days after a tick becomes attached to the human body. It starts with fatigue, numbness of legs and muscle pains, but after that, it moves into paralysis if the tick isn’t caught.
Doctors removed the tick from Evelyn’s head and she started to feel like herself again within hours.
“I didn’t realize how widespread this video would end up. So for those of you who don’t know us personally, Evelyn is doing much better…My husband and I are still in shock this happened to our baby girl and I’m glad we were able to spread some awareness about this,” Lewis wrote.
WATCH: Tick season is underway and some Canadian experts are concerned there could be more ticks this season than ever before and that could lead to more cases of Lyme disease. A Toronto woman knows first-hand how difficult it can be, as Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Allison Vuchnich reports.
Lyme disease and ticks
With sunny weather and lush wilderness across Canada, many people head outdoors for camping, hiking or picnics in wooded areas.
A danger lurking are these small, blood-sucking insects that have been infected once they’ve fed on mice, squirrels, birds or other small animals carrying the potent bacteria.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are two types of ticks at play: the western blacklegged tick in British Columbia and the blacklegged tick in other parts of Canada.
Unlike mosquitoes that can transfer West Nile to humans with a single bite, the tick has to be attached to the body for at least 24 to 36 hours. That’s enough time for the bacteria in the insect’s gut to make its way into its human host.
You could show symptoms within three to as long as 30 days: a rash at the site of the bite, headaches, fevers, muscle aches and the chills.
These symptoms appear to be the onset of Lyme disease. The condition was first discovered in the 1970s and was named after the town where the initial cases were diagnosed in Lyme, Conn.
If it’s left untreated, it could move onto the second stage of the disease. The tick’s victim is left with multiple skin rashes, arthritis, heart palpitations, and central and peripheral nervous system disorders.
A third and final stage is recurring arthritis and neurological problems, according to Health Canada.
The little insects may be the predominant culprit of Lyme disease but they’re also responsible for carrying at least three other disease-inducing agents.
How to protect yourself against ticks:
- Wear light-coloured clothing. It makes ticks easier to see and remove before they can attach to feed.
- Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, closed footwear and tuck your pants into your socks.
- Use a tick repellent that has “DEET.” Apply it to your skin and outer clothing.
- Examine yourself thoroughly for ticks after a day out and use a mirror to check the back of your body.
Information provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health