2-year-old dies after suspected tick bite

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/CNN) – Friends and family of a 2-year-old in Indiana who died of what doctors believe was a tick-borne disease want to make sure other families always check for ticks.

Kenley Ratliff, 2, died Saturday after she had been at the hospital for several days following a high fever that wouldn’t go down.

Doctors had been treating the little girl for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a tick-borne disease which causes a bacterial infection.

The 2-year-old had a brain infection, swollen hands and rashes all over her body.

“She had purple rashes, splotches all over her body in an ununiform pattern, just all over, little tiny purple spots, big purple patches,” family friend Nichol Kirby said.

Kenley was admitted to the hospital Tuesday after her high fever didn’t break. She was given an antibiotic and placed on a breathing tube while doctors tried to diagnose her, Kirby says.

“Just the condition of this poor baby laying there the way she was, it’s a mother’s nightmare, a father’s nightmare,” Kirby said.

Before being admitted to the hospital, the 2-year-old was taken to the emergency room twice for strep throat then released.

Kirby says the doctors were treating what they finally diagnosed as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as best they could.

“Her mother and father cannot believe that she is gone, that their baby girl is gone now,” Kirby said.

Kenley loved spending time outdoors with her family, Kirby says. If she was bitten by a tick, the family is not sure where it may have happened.

Kirby says Kenley’s mother just wants to get the message out there to other families to always check for ticks.

“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,” Kirby said.

The family is currently waiting for autopsy results to confirm if it was a tick bite that caused the 2-year-old’s death.

Copyright 2017 WISH, Kayla Conn via CNN. All rights reserved.

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