Published May 19,2017

Fox News

Please see link above for the frightening video of a young girl from the state of Oregon struggling to stand and use her arms after an undetected tick bite.  Thankfully, an astute doctor had seen this in a few other children her age and upon a closer look, found a tick in the girl’s hair and diagnosed her with tick paralysis.

The tick they discovered was a dog tick and while it normally is not a tick known to carry Lyme Disease, they are keeping a close eye on her.  She has recovered from the paralysis.  Tick paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin in the salivary glands predominantly of female, egg-laden ticks, not by an infectious agent like Lyme Disease (borrelia).  Over 40 tick species are known to transmit it; however, in North America the most common culprits are Dermacentor variabilis (American dog tick) and Dermacentor andersoni (Rocky Mountain wood tick), but bites from Amblyomma (Lone Star) and Ixodes (deer tick) ticks can also cause tick paralysis. In the United States, tick paralysis is most common in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain states and southeastern part of the country. It occurs most frequently in the spring months, from April through June.

Lack of muscle control appears within 2-6 days of tick attachment followed by an ascending paralysis starting in the feet and legs. Numbness and tingling in the face and limbs, are frequently reported.

The apparent cure is simply removing the tick.  If the tick is not found and removed, paralysis can ascend to the trunk and affect respiratory muscles, which can be life-threatening.

Correct diagnosis is contingent upon awareness. Any case with loss of muscle control and ascending paralysis, especially in a patient who lives in a tick-endemic area should be considered suspicious for tick paralysis. Such patients should be searched immediately for ticks, particularly in body areas where the tick might not be immediately apparent, such as the scalp, hairline, ear canals or pubic region.

Tick paralysis is often confused with Guillain-Barré syndrome, and there are no tests for it, so be educated and educate others.

**Please note, often maps and predictions of infections based on tick type can be faulty.  All ticks have similar anatomy and can exchange body fluids with humans and other animals.  Even the CDC is stating that geographic ranges of ticks are expanding and the infections they carry are as well:

Please see this link for a wonderful tick identification chart.  It also shows them engorged and as you go over the tick it zooms in so you can really get a good look:

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