Rare Diseases

Indiana toddler dies from suspected tick bite infection, family says

An Indiana toddler died on Sunday after she caught a bacterial infection she may have got from a tick bite, her family said. 

Kenley Ratliff, 2, fell ill a week ago after she contracted an infection believed to be Rocky Mountain spotted fever, transmitted through tick bites, her family told WTHR. They said they went camping just before Ratliff got sick. 

Within days, the toddler went from being healthy to battling the infection in the hospital. 

"Yes, within less than like five days,” Monica Kirby, a family friend, told the news station. "Her little body couldn't handle it."

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At first the toddler tested positive for strep throat, but after she came home she developed a 104-degree fever, Kirby told WTHR. She was hospitalized and spent the last moments of her life breathing through a ventilator. She had "little to no brain activity" when they removed the breathing tubes, the family wrote on a GoFundMe page

Though doctors are still waiting for test results to give an official diagnosis, pediatricians believe Ratliff caught Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which has been on the rise in the state. There were 40 cases reported in 2016, 10 more than the previous year, the Indiana Health Department stated. The infection could be especially deadly among children. 

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The Ratliff family said they are telling their story so the tragedy does not happen to other people.

"Now our goal is to spread awareness of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in hopes of saving other children's lives," they said on the GoFundMe page. 

The page, created to help the family pay for medical bills, has raised nearly $5,000 as of Wednesday.