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Family mourning the death of 2-year-old little girl urges awareness of tick-borne Rocky Mountain spotted fever


'If we can save one child's life, then we have done our job'

Image source: Today show video screenshot

Following the tragic death of 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff, her family is raising awareness of the tick-borne disease that took her life in hopes that other children might be saved.

What are the details?

Kenley died earlier this month from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a rare bacterial infection that can be fatal if not treated in time. But symptoms of the disease are consistent with an array of other illnesses, especially in kids, often causing diagnoses to be delayed.

Such a delay is what makes children particularly vulnerable to the disease and is ultimately what led to Kenley dying within days of contracting it.

The 2-year-old's mother, Kayla, realized her daughter was sick when the girl came down with a 103.8 degree fever. Kayla rushed Kenley to the emergency room, where doctors concluded she had either a virus or a bacterial infection and sent her home with amoxicillin, NBC's "Today" reported.

By the next day, Kenley's temperature hit 104, and Kayla took her back to the ER where she was tested for strep. The test came back positive, and Kenley was sent home once again.

For three more days, Kenley's fever persisted and the family started to panic. By the time the little girl made it back to the hospital a third time, a rash had appeared on her arms and legs. She was admitted and doctors discovered she was exhibiting other symptoms consistent with the disease — her brain was swelling and her organs began to fail.

Once physicians realized she had Rocky Mountain spotted fever, they began administering the correct antibiotic — doxycycline — to treat it, but it was too late and Kenley's body was not able to successfully fight the disease, "Today" reported.

Now, Kenley's aunt, Jordan Clap, says her grieving family wants to spread awareness so that what happened to Kenley might put others on alert. She told "Today," "If we could save one child's life then we will have done our job."

What else should I know?

The Centers for Disease Control says symptoms typically begin with a fever and headache, and additional signs of potential infection include vomiting, stomach pain, muscle pain, nausea, lack of appetite and usually a rash which appears within 2 to 4 days.

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