Five-year-old Kailyn Griffin, from Mississippi, was temporarily paralyzed last Wednesday by a neurotoxin from an egg-laying tick on her scalp.
On June 6, Kailyn struggled to stand or speak. Her mother Jessica Griffin spotted an engorged tick on her daughter’s scalp and rushed her to the hospital after pulling the tick out and securing it in a plastic bag. Doctors diagnosed young Kailyn with tick paralysis.
Her mother was understandably effusive with relief. “After tons of blood work and a CT of the head UMMC has ruled it as tick paralysis,” Griffin said. “PLEASE for the love of god check your kids for ticks! It’s more common in children than it is adults!” She seemed glad, more than anything, that the parasite adventure was over. “Scary is a UNDERSTATEMENT,” she said.
Tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin secreted by female ticks as they prepare to lay their eggs. What makes it especially tricky is that the symptoms can remain dormant for up to a week before showing. The paralysis begins in the legs, then moves upward. Without intervention, it will compromise the muscles surrounding the lungs and can be fatal.
Kailyn is not the first little girl to have a very public case. In 2017, Evelyn Lewis was similarly afflicted. Her mother Amanda’s footage of the symptoms quickly went viral, and she was fortunate to be able to find help. The recovery time for both girls was very rapid, and Kailyn walked out of the hospital grasping two balloons for her bravery.