Tick paralysis

Semin Neurol. 2012 Nov;32(5):531-2. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1334474. Epub 2013 May 15.


Tick paralysis is a rare, but readily treatable condition that if missed can lead to significant morbidity and death. The classic clinical presentation of tick paralysis is the development of an unsteady, ataxic type gait followed by an acute symmetric ascending flaccid paralysis. Symptoms generally begin within 2 to 6 days of tick attachment. If the tick continues to feed, the weakness ascends to the upper extremities over a matter of hours, followed by cranial nerve involvement. Due to the similarity in its presentation, tick paralysis is often misdiagnosed as Guillain-Barré's syndrome, particularly the Miller Fisher's subtype, given its cranial nerve involvement. However, the weakness seen in tick paralysis progresses more quickly than what is generally seen in Guillain-Barré's syndrome and the protein concentration is not elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid. The mainstay of treatment for tick paralysis is tick removal. The time to full neurologic recovery after tick removal is estimated to be around 1.5 days with initial improvement generally within hours.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Risk
  • Tick Paralysis / diagnosis*
  • Tick Paralysis / drug therapy*
  • Ticks
  • Treatment Outcome