Family and friends hope to raise awareness after the death of 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff, an Indianapolis toddler who died from what doctors believe is a tick-borne disease.
Kenley died Saturday, several days after being admitted to the Riley Hospital for Children, WISH-TV reported. She was treated for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a tick-borne disease that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causes a bacterial infection.
“She was such a lovely, happy, bubbly girl two weeks ago and all of a sudden she’s gone,” family friend Nichol Kirby told the Indianapolis-area television station.
After being taken to the Emergency Room twice for strep throat and released, she was admitted to the hospital after her 104-degrees fever didn’t break.
Doctors treated her with antibiotics while diagnosing her symptoms: a brain infection, swollen hands, and rashes all over her body.
“She had purple rashes splotches all over her body and a uniform pattern just all over little tiny purple spots big purple patches,” Kirby said, adding, “Just the condition of this poor baby laying there the way she was, it’s a mother’s nightmare, a father’s nightmare.”
Family and friends are not sure where the tick bite may have happened. They are awaiting autopsy results to confirm whether it was in fact a tick bite that caused her death.
Meanwhile, Kenley’s mother has a message to other families, according to Kirby.
“Be very diligent about checking their children for ticks, checking their animals for ticks making sure that those pets are treated,” she said.
Kirby also told the station that the little girl’s mother doesn’t want to see this happen to anyone else.
“She would be devastated to see this to happen to anyone else and I think she would just everyone to know how much she loved her baby girl that was her angel,” she said.
A GoFundMe page set up to pay for the family has raised more more than $5,000 as of Wednesday morning.