It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A 2-year-old girl has died of what appears to be an aggressive infection from a tick bite.
The family of Kenley Ratliff is awaiting autopsy results, which will determine whether the Indianapolis, Indiana, child succumbed to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is often caused by tick bites.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Rocky Mountain spotted fever starts with a severe headache. Later, it causes a rash, which typically appears on the wrists and ankles. If left untreated, the infection can result in serious damage to internal organs, including the kidneys and heart.
A family friend told WISH that Ratliff was taken to the emergency room twice for strep throat and released. She said the toddler was finally admitted last Tuesday for a 104-degree fever that wouldn’t break, after five excruciating days.
“Her mother was holding her hand. Her little 2-year-old hand was just so swollen it was almost the size of her mother’s,” family friend Nicole Kirby told the station.
“She had purple rashes splotches all over her body.”
Kirby also claimed that Ratliff suffered a brain infection. She was given antibiotics and placed on a breathing tube as doctors attempted to diagnose her.
Despite their best efforts to save her life, the family announced that Ratliff’s feeding tube was removed at 3 a.m. this past Sunday.
As they wait for autopsy results, Ratliff’s mother is now dedicated to honoring her daughter’s memory by spreading awareness about this potentially deadly disease.
Kirby said, “She would be devastated to see this happen to anyone else, and I think she would just want everyone to know how much she loved her baby girl. That was her angel.”