When one little boy felt weak after hitting his head, his parents rushed him to hospital. At first, doctors believed he had a concussion. But, in reality, his situation was much more worrying.
Like many toddlers, little Collin was a ball of energy. So when his parents, Stephanie and Dillon, took him to his older brother’s baseball practice, they knew they’d have to keep him entertained. As a result, Dillon and Collin enjoyed a game of hide and seek around their family car.
But among the excitement the youngster tripped and fell. He suffered a little cut to his eyebrow but got right back up and started playing again. Consequently, his parents thought nothing of it. He’d fallen numerous times before with no issue.
“He’s had worse falls before,” Collin’s mom Stephanie told TV show The Doctors in 2015. “So we didn’t think nothing about it and went to bed.” However, overnight the toddler’s condition took a terrifying turn.
“Next morning I went to go wake up Collin,” Stephanie explained, recalling the distressing incident. “He couldn’t sit up. I was just thinking it was the flu but when I realized that he couldn’t walk I called my husband.”
Dillon rushed home, picked up Collin and Stephanie and drove them to hospital. At the emergency room, the concerned parents explained how their little one had fallen the night before. As a result, doctors figured Collin had a concussion.
To diagnose the suspected ailment, they conducted a CAT scan. However, that came back clear. But, despite this good news, Collin’s heath was still in decline. And now, experts seemed stumped as to what the problem was.
When he’d first arrived in hospital, it was only his legs that Collin couldn’t move. But, as time passed, he lost the ability to sit up. And, by the evening, the three-year-old was almost completely paralyzed.
“The only thing he could do was breathe,” Dillon explained. “He could not drink his bottle. He could not eat his food. He just laid there,” Stephanie added. “Then his oxygen levels were dropping. So the next day they decided to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.”
But, once again, the test came back negative. So, with Collin’s condition still in free-fall, his parents began to panic. Consequently, they had their son transferred to a children’s hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. It was only then that doctors discovered the shocking truth behind the toddler’s illness.
Collin got to the new facility just in time. Doctors told his parents that, had they arrived just 30 minutes later, his little body would have gone into cardiac arrest. But, luckily, they were able to stabilize the child and get to the bottom of his condition.
A team of infectious disease doctors and neurologists removed a tick from behind Collin’s ear. It turned out that the little boy’s paralysis was all down to this tiny creature. And, after receiving an antibiotic, the toddler began to regain some movement in his feet.
Little Collin had suffered from tick paralysis. The disease is caused by a neurotoxin found in certain ticks’ saliva. This transmits to the host when the parasite feeds and over the course of a few days destroys nerve tissue, causing paralysis. In some cases, the disease can be fatal. But Collin was saved just in time.
As soon as doctors removed the tick, Collin started to improve. Before his parents knew it, he was back to his normal, boisterous self. And a relieved Stephanie and Dillon could not have been happier.
However, his dad felt things could have been much different if they hadn’t made the bold move to transfer their child. “I think that if my wife and I hadn’t have made the decision to go to another hospital I don’t think he would have made it,” Dillon admitted.
Later, he and his family appeared by video link on the medically themed talk show The Doctors. And Collin appeared to have made a miraculous recovery from his brush with tick paralysis.
On the show, Dr. Travis Stork revealed that, while tick bites are common, this form of paralysis is quite rare. And, he added, it is not related to Lyme disease – a bacterial infection that can cause long-lasting symptoms – which is also spread by ticks.
“This neurotoxin hangs out in their salivary glands,” Dr. Travis explained to viewers. “So while the tick is feeding, that neurotoxin gets into, in this case, Collin’s blood and that leads to what we call an ascending paralysis, which initially starts with the legs and an inability to walk.”
Stephanie and Dillon revealed ticks were a common problem where they lived in Atoka, TN. “We get ticks all the time,” Stephanie admitted. However, she no doubt never expected such a tiny creature to have such a devastating impact on her son.
Thankfully, however, the disease shouldn’t have a lasting impact on Collin. And, having been almost completely paralyzed, he now finds it hard to sit still. His parents are no doubt exhausted, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.