When Kailyn Kirk woke up on Wednesday morning, it didn't take long for her mother, Jessica Griffin, to discover that something was very wrong.
The five-year-old couldn't walk and her speech was slurred. Then Griffin discovered a tick attached to Kailyn's scalp, and rushed her child to the emergency room.
Griffin said on Facebook: "I was just thinking that her legs were asleep until I noticed that she couldn't hardly talk!"
A tick bite can do that?
Kailyn was diagnosed with tick paralysis, which is commonly caused by bites from the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the American dog tick. The symptoms are temporary, but terrifying — caused by a neurotoxin found in the parasite's saliva.
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, little girls tend to get tick paralysis more than boys, because the bugs are better able to hide in long hair.
By Wednesday evening, Kailyn was walking out of the hospital with two "get well" balloons in tow, with her mother saying on social media that "Everything is completely back to normal" and "GOD IS GOOD!!"
Griffin warned other parents to check their children for ticks often, given that tick paralyses is more common in children and worsens if not treated. In extreme cases, it can lead to respiratory failure and even death.
Yikes! Anything else?
Considering ticks are most active from April through September, it's now peak "season" for getting a bite. Tickborne diseases are on the rise, too, with symptoms varying from fever or chills to the more severe as in Kailyn's case. With any tickborne illness, the sooner a patient gets treatment, the better.
Now, let's all go spray ourselves with bug repellant.