7-Year-Old Girl’s Leg Went Numb Due To A Tick Bite. Symptoms And Possible Effects Of Tick Paralysis

Lifestyle & community

July 8, 2019 14:37 By Fabiosa

When it gets warmer, people spend more and more time outside, and with that, the danger of tick bites increases. Most of these cases are nothing more than unpleasant, but some parasites carry serious infections, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and anaplasmosis.

Many people simply remove the tick, treat the wound, and soon forget about it. However, each incident involving ticks is reason to consult the doctor. The story of 7-year-old Jenna Ganahl is yet more proof of this.

Like many other children, the girl went to a kids' camp. When she returned, her mother found several tiny ticks in her daughter's hair, which she immediately removed. The woman didn’t know that there are several species that upon contact with human flesh transmit an immobilizing toxin.

Some time after her return, Jenna felt that her leg was going numb, but her mother didn’t make a big deal out of it. But then the girl became paralyzed, completely losing the use of her leg. The doctor told the mom that the cause of her daughter’s condition was a paralyzing neurotoxin contained in tick saliva. During careful examination, the doctors found a tiny bit of the parasite in the wound, which was poisoning her body. If it isn’t removed, 12% of the cases are fatal. Fortunately, Jenna case was less dramatic.

Her condition is called tick paralysis – the numbness and a feeling of weakness, usually in the limbs, and sometimes of the entire body. Although the symptoms are frightening, they become less and less pronounced once the parasite is completely removed. Tick paralysis is not the most common disease, but it must be taken seriously as it can affect the respiratory system, which in some cases leads to death.

Anyone can contract this disease, but most often it occurs in children under 8. In addition to numbness and tingling in the legs, it can be also indicated by:

  • muscle pain;
  • general fatigue;
  • irritability.

Numbness usually spreads from the bottom up and can sometimes affect only one side of the body. Breathing problems occur when the toxin begins to affect the nerve fibers of the diaphragm.

People mostly find ticks in the hair, along the hairline, on the neck, in the armpits, around the genitals, between the fingers, and in folds of the skin. Because of this, it is crucial to examine the body every time after camping, especially children.

The only way to prevent the risk of developing tick paralysis is to minimize the chances of contact with these parasites, remove them as carefully as possible, and always consult a doctor. Remember, this is not the only danger they pose to human health.


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.