Concerns over ‘tick paralysis’ raise as tick populations expand in Northeast Ohio

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CLEVELAND-- It was a parent’s worst nightmare.

Avery, 5, of Cincinnati, was hospitalized in the ICI on a breathing tube. Doctors were baffled over what was wrong.

"She went to bed playing one day. She woke up the next day she couldn't walk a straight line. She couldn't feed herself, she got to the point where she couldn't breathe on her own."

Turns out, there was a tick the size of a quarter behind Avery’s right ear.

Dr. Frank Esper, member of the pediatric infectious disease center at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, said while tick paralysis is rare, it can happen.

"Where there's a neurotoxin that's secreted by a certain species of tick, that can cause weakness and sometimes that weakness can get so bad, that it actually affects your breathing muscles and you can stop breathing," Esper said.

But here in Northeast Ohio, the most common illness from a tick bite is Lyme disease.

"Usually that big 'ol bullseye rash, right where the tick was biting."

North Chagrin Reservation is beautiful for families to enjoy the outdoors, but believe it or not, you don't have to be in a massive park like this to be bitten by a tick. The majority of bites happen right in your own backyards.

"Take time to apply insect repellant so starting with something that contains DEET as far as an application to your skin. For treating clothes and other gear ,you can use a spray that has permethrin in it," said Bethany Majeski with North Chagrin Nature Center.

A tick has to be on the skin for 48 hours before anyone starts showing signs of illness.

Little Avery is now fully recovered, feeling better less than 24 hours after the tick was removed.

“It's just pulling off the tick. That's the treatment."

The Ohio Department of Health said Lyme disease cases are increasing in Ohio as the range of blacklegged tick populations continues to expand in the state and encounters with this tick occur more frequently, particularly in forest habitats.

Don't forget about your pets. They can be bitten and infected as well.

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