Parents Warn About Dangers of Ticks After Deadly Illness Kills Their Child

June 12, 2019 Updated: June 19, 2019

Summer is a wonderful time to get outside with the family as the weather warms up and children get out of school. But with the spring runs and summer sun come lots of pests; some of them are just annoying like flies, while others can be deadly, like mosquitoes and ticks.

Ticks are not to be taken lightly, as a chilling story from Indiana two summers ago showed in which a little-known illness took the life of a sparkling, beloved 2-year-old girl.

Jennie Runevitch စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၇၊ ဇွန် ၆၊ အင်္ဂါနေ့

It all started when the Ratliff family, from Indianapolis, Indiana, went on a camping trip at the beginning of the summer in 2017. While the family enjoyed their outing, what they didn’t realize was that their daughter Kenley, who was almost 3 years old at the time, had brought back an unseen killer with her—a tick.

When Kenley, whom family friend Monica Kirby described to WTHR in Indianapolis as “the light of [her parents’] life” and “an angel sent down from heaven,” began to show several symptoms such as a sore throat and an incredible fever (103.8 F, or 39.9 C), her mother, Kayla, knew something was wrong. She got her daughter into ER as quickly as possible.

Doctors couldn’t identify anything particular and thought it might be strep throat. They prescribed the common antiobiotic amoxicillin and told Kayla to bring her back if she didn’t show any signs of improvement. But despite the antibiotics, Kenley’s fever just got worse and worse, reaching an astronomical 104 F (40 C).

Jennie Runevitch စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၇၊ ဇွန် ၆၊ အင်္ဂါနေ့

Kayla’s sister Jordan Clapp described the next horrifying days to TODAY. “We were on the panicky side,” she said, after having seen how the drugs weren’t bringing the fever down. They decided to take Kenley to the Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, but even on the way there, this poor little girl was being ravaged by the undiagnosed disease.

This terrifying moment gave way to the first definitive clue about what was rapidly taking the toddler’s life. A rash appeared all over her body, and combined with the persistently high fever, this helped Riley Hospital’s doctors figure out what the others had missed.

It wasn’t strep—it was a rare, tick-borne disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which the CDC calls “one of the deadliest tick-borne diseases in America.” Nichol Kirby, a family friend, described the scene to WISH in Indianapolis in terrible terms. “Just the condition of this poor baby laying there the way she was it’s a mother’s nightmare.”

While doctors did everything they could, it was too little, too late. “At that point, when she was at Riley, she closed her eyes and never opened them again.” Just a week after her symptoms began, Kenley’s life had tragically been cut short.

What could have been done differently and what does Kenley’s family want others to know?

Family members believe a tick bite may be to blame for 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff's death over the weekend

RTV6 (WRTV – Indianapolis) စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၇၊ ဇွန် ၈၊ ကြာသပတေးနေ့

The Ratliff family wants parents to be aware of the danger that ticks can pose to small children, whose immune systems are much more vulnerable. As family fried Nichol Kirby told WISH, Kenley’s grieving mother Kayla “would be devastated to see this to happen to anyone else.”

“Everyone [needs] to be very diligent about checking their children for ticks, checking their animals for ticks making sure that those pets are treated,” Kenley’s parents wanted everyone to know.

The good news for parents is that if the symptoms are noted early on, the drug doxycycline can be tremendously effective in wiping out the disease. If Kenley had been on it sooner, she might have had a chance. While tests for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can take a few days, the CDC always recommends starting doxycycline before the results have arrived.

A timely message that can prevent tragedy from striking a child in your life this summer!