Parents Dillon and Stephanie became concerned when their son Collin
woke up exhibiting very peculiar behavior. Collin couldn’t sit up and he was having trouble walking. The 3-year-old had bumped his head the night before, but hospital tests showed no signs of a brain injury.
Collin’s condition continued to worsen, to the point where he couldn’t move at all from the neck down. He also had difficulty eating and drinking. They took him to a local hospital, but the doctors there could not figure out what was wrong. His parents decided to transfer him to a larger children’s hospital. When Collin got there, they were told that their son would’ve gone into cardiac arrest if they had arrived just 30 minutes later.
Medical professionals at the children’s hospital found the root of the problem: a small tick behind Collin’s ear. Collin was experiencing tick paralysis.
Tick paralysis is caused by over 40 species of ticks worldwide. It occurs when an engorged female tick produces a neurotoxin in its salivary glands and transmits it to its host during feeding.
Tick paralysis is most likely to be seen in children rather than adults. The symptoms children experience are similar to those that dogs experience. They typically appear in humans within 2-6 days of tick attachment. The tick bites are usually found at the top of the head, or at the transition point between the hair and the neck.
Symptoms begin with restlessness, irritability and fatigue, then neurological symptoms begin to take place. They start in the lower extremities, making deep tendon reflexes weak or absent. During the next 12 to 24 hours, the muscles become weak. If the tick is not removed, the respiratory muscles will fail and the patient will die of respiratory failure.
Once the tick is removed, patients usually recover quickly and further treatment is not required. Recognizing the symptoms of tick paralysis can prove vital to saving a life. Ticks also act as carriers of various diseases in animals, including dogs. Symptoms of tick paralysis in dogs are similar to those in humans.
Tick Paralysis Symptoms In Humans
- Change in breathing rate
- Numbness of the legs
- Muscle pains
- Paralysis starting in the feet and legs
Tick Paralysis Symptoms In Dogs
- High blood pressure
- Fast heart rate and rhythm
- Weakness, especially in the hind limbs
- Partial loss of muscle movement
- Poor reflexes
- Difficulty eating
- Excessive drooling
Watch the video below for more information on tick paralysis:
Companion Vector-Borne Diseases
American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc.
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