Family says tick bite may have led to Indiana toddler's fatal infection

A family in Indiana believes a 2-year-old died after she was bitten by a tick while camping.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTTV) – The family of an Indiana toddler who passed away on Sunday has a warning for other families. Family members of 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff say she was bitten by a tick and died from an infection a few days later.

“I just cannot believe this is real. We were expecting a miracle and we wanted to bring her home,” said Kenley’s Grandma Rhonda Conn.

Conn says the blonde hair, bubbly and beautiful baby passed away from a deadly bite that led to a bacterial infection.

The Marion County Coroner’s Office says Riley Hospital for Children is handling the autopsy. The coroner’s office did receive preliminary information that the toddler’s death was the result of a possible infection due to a possible tick bite. Autopsy results will take about two weeks.

“Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, due to a tick bite,” said Conn.

Kenley’s family says she had just gone camping before the sickness started. Within five days they say the infection took over her small body.

“The fever is the first sign and then it leads to bumps all over, red rashes everywhere, head to toe,” said Conn.

With family by her side holding her tiny hand, doctors and nurses tried to save her from an illness Conn says she did not even know existed.

“I have never ever heard about it, ever. I had no idea what this was,” said Conn.

According to the State Department of Health, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is on the rise in Indiana. The department says there were 40 cases just last year.

“It is just unfair. It should have never happened,” said Conn.

Spreading awareness of the horrible illness and how to prevent it is how Conn says she will cope with losing her Kinley, a part of her life and a piece of her heart.

“If I can help another family not go through this, that is my goal,” said Conn.

The family is working to raise money to help pay for the hospital bills and funeral expenses for Kenley. Here is a link to that page.

© WTTV/CBS


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