Mount Cotton mum Desiree Bird urges people to watch for ticks after daughter is hospitalised

A MOUNT Cotton mother whose four-year-old daughter was hospitalised after a tick bite last month is urging others to be vigilant as warm weather sets in and the parasites proliferate.

Desiree Bird, who has three other children, said she watched in terror as her daughter's head began to swell up over several days despite medical intervention.

Ms Bird said she discovered the tick lodged in her daughter's head while in a GP waiting room.

Her daughter had complained about a headache the night before and a lymph node on the left side of her neck had started to swell.

"I thought she was getting an infection in her throat so I booked a doctor's appointment for the next day," Ms Bird said.

"I was sitting in the waiting room and the rash around the top of her forehead had gotten worse.

"When I had a closer look I saw this huge tick that was just behind her hairline, sort of covered by her hair so you couldn't see it.

"The doctor took it out and we kind of didn't think anything of it."

The offending tick.

The offending tick.

Ms Bird said at 5pm that evening the top of her daughter's head had swollen substantially.

She rushed her to Redland Hospital where Ms Bird was told her daughter could be suffering from cellulitis.

"The next morning she woke up and the swelling had gotten even worse," Ms Bird said. "Her whole eye had started to droop.

"... In another two hours it was like the swelling was spreading down her face.

"By 4pm that afternoon her eyes were almost completely shut so I took her to the Queensland Children's Hospital."

She said her daughter was put on liquid antibiotics at the hospital but it failed to stop the swelling.

Day four of the experience.

Day four of the experience.

"By this stage her eyes had completely swollen shut ... and her face was bright red," Ms Bird said.

"By the third day they started her on steroids and that started to reduce the swelling.

"We were able to take her home the following week as the swelling had subsided."

Ms Bird said the doctors at Queensland Children's Hospital had asked to put her daughter's photos in medical journals to show the damage ticks can do to humans.

The whole ordeal took a toll on Ms Bird, who had feared the worst.

"The first thing that went through my head was lyme disease but they (doctors) said it doesn't exist in Australia," she said.

"...Because the swelling was moving from the top of her head down I was petrified it was going to her neck and that it was going to cause breathing problems.

"Ophthalmologists also came in to make sure the infection hadn't gotten behind her eyes because that is obviously something even worse.

"Thank goodness it hadn't but that was another thing I was petrified about."

Ms Bird said doctors did not identify the tick that caused the damage but it was likely she picked it up while playing in the backyard of their Mount Cotton acreage property.

She said her daughter still suffered from headaches every day or two, likely due to residual tick toxin, but was otherwise back to normal.