Boy, 5, Develops Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever After He's Bitten by a Tick

Playing How to Check Your Children for Ticks

The parents of a 5-year-old boy who suffered a potentially fatal illness after he was bitten by a tick at his grandmother’s Georgia home are warning others of the dangers.

Mason McNair was recently bitten by the tick on his belly button, and while the bug was removed right away, its bite became infected. So doctors put the child on antibiotics.

But then a rash began to spread all over his body and Mason's doctor believed it was likely an allergic reaction to the antibiotics.

"I was not satisfied with that answer," Mason's mother, Danielle McNair, told Inside Edition. "It wasn't right. The rash was so angry, so fast. He was having other symptoms [like] diarrhea, fatigue, headache. It was on his neck, soles of feet, head to toe.” 

McNair then became a citizen sleuth, scouring the internet for more information. That's when she found a frightening diagnosis: The tick may have given her son the dreaded Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can be deadly. 

“Reading that and seeing it can lead to death if untreated that’s the scariest thing," she said, adding that she was “terrified” for her son. 

The panicked mom raced Mason back the doctor's office.

“[I] showed them everything I had found," McNair said. "They did their own research and that's when they diagnosed Mason with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I’m really thankful I did my own research as a parent or we'd be in a different situation right now."

Mason was put on the right antibiotic, and after three days, he was back to normal.

His mother said she is telling their story to make sure parents are "mindful of every little symptom that occurs after a tick bite."

She added: "You have to take all of them seriously."

Dr. Nancy Simpkins, who did not treat Mason, spoke to Inside Edition about the symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 

“The symptoms ... are really unspecific, unfortunately," Dr. Simpkins said. "Fever, rash, headache, malaise. Similar to a lot of other viral infections."

Dr. Simpkins also outlined how to properly remove a tick from the skin.

“If you notice the tick you should remove it as soon as you can with a pair of tweezers. Pull from the head and remove the tick because the longer it is in the body the higher the chance of disease transmission," she said. "What we like to say is get the tick out and then have your child seen by a doctor."

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