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HEALTHWATCH: Rare and sometimes deadly

Updated: Thursday, September 19 2013, 02:34 PM CDT
HEALTHWATCH   --  "Tick Paralysis" is a rare and sometimes deadly condition brought on by a tick bite.

The insect transmits a neurotoxin into its host.
Crippling symptoms appear within two to seven days.

One morning this summer, six year old Natalie woke up and said her legs "didn't."
"She couldn't put pressure on them, she couldn't walk, couldn't stand."

Within hours, Natalie was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sacred Heart Hospital.
"Mom, what's wrong with me, what's wrong with me.  I can't move my legs, I can't move my arms."
Natalie's mother, Shelby Peters says a myriad of tests began.

"I didn't know how to tell her it would be okay okay cause I didn't know if it was going to be or not."
Thirty year veteran Sacred Heart Hospital nurse Karen Byers was on the floor.

But Natalie wasn't her patient.
There was much talk  about the little girls sudden muscle weakness. And rapidly declining motor control.

Triggering a memory of a 20 year old conversation with a doctor about the symptoms of "Tick Paralysis".
"It's in my mind anytime I hear the word, paralysis."

Tick Paralysis is  rare --  Byers had only seen one other case 15 year before.  But still "As I was leaving, you guys, go check her for a tick."

They did, finding nothing.
The next morning Natalie was worse, hours away from needing a ventilator.

"Deep in my heart, just had that overwhelming, don't continue with your patients, don't do anything else, just go get the doctors now."

They listened, checked again and this time, the tick had grown large enough to be detected.
"I was so happy but I was so angry that something so little could do so much damage."

Within hours of removing the tick  -- Natalie's paralysis began fading.
Peters is sure Natalie got the tick in Crestview.  She checks her for more every day.

"Wanted to keep her in a bubble."
Byers says when checking keep your fingers close together and go slow.  You'll usually feel the tick before you see it.

Natalie was released from the hospital before mom and nurse could talk.  This was their chance to connect.

"I just want to hug everyone involved.  I want to kiss them on their face and say thank you."
For Byers -- it's an affirmation to trust her nurses intuition and training.  And a chance to twirl a darling and  now healthy little girl.

"Beautiful face and smiling and talking and this is joy."
For more health related news and topics, head to our website and click on the "Health" tab. 

HEALTHWATCH: Rare and sometimes deadly


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