Tick paralysis is a rare disease thought to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva, but with tick-related illnesses on the rise, parents will do well to take certain measures to guard against them.

searching for tick in hair
Credit: Kalcutta/Shutterstock

Gorgeous summer weather means spending more time outdoors for many famillies, but taking proper precautions to keep bug bites—and any resulting health issues—at bay is of utmost importance. That's the message one mom from Missouri named Jessica Griffin is emphasizing after her daughter Kailyn suffered tick paralysis. Griffin took to Facebook last week to share the worrisome series of events.

"We had a bit of a scare this morning!" Grififn wrote on June 6. "Kailyn woke up and couldn’t walk! I was just thinking that her legs were asleep until I noticed that she couldn’t hardly talk! After tons of blood work and a CT of the head UMMC has ruled it as tick paralysis! PLEASE for the love of god check your kids for ticks! It’s more common in children than it is adults! We are being admitted to the hospital for observation and we’re hoping her balance gets straightened out! Prayers for this baby! Scary is a UNDERSTATEMENT! She has been such a champ throughout this whole ordeal! ❤️"

Alongside her warning, Griffin shared photos of her daughter and the tick that was found on—and removed from—the top of her head.

The CDC notes that tick paralysis is a rare disease thought to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva. The symptoms include acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis that is often confused with other neurologic disorders or diseases (e.g., Guillain-Barré syndrome or botulism). Within 24 hours of removing the tick, the paralysis typically subsides.

Thankfully, swift recovery was the case for Kailyn. Griffin shared an update the next day. "My fb has been over flooded with fb messages from all around the US," she wrote. "I had no intentions for that post to go as viral as it has but I’m so glad because now I know I’m not the only one out there that hasn’t ever heard of TICK PARALYSIS! It’s definitely a thing and we experienced it first hand! Make sure you check those babies in EVERY crease of their body! Kailyn has fully recovered and hasn’t slowed down since her feet hit that floor this morning ❤️"

Given that tick-related illnesses are on the rise, this warning is especially timely. The CDC recommends taking certain preemptive measures, like checking for ticks after spending time in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or with your dog, camping, gardening, etc. and using recommended, age-appropriate insect repellents. They recommened against using insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old and products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.

With hope, parents who take these preemptive steps can prevent another case like Kailyn's.