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Family raising awareness after 2-year-old girl died from possible tick bite

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Family and friends of a 2-year-old girl from Plainfield are hoping to raise awareness after she died from what doctors believe to be Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s a tick borne disease which causes a bacterial infection.

Right now family and friends told 24-Hour News 8 they’re waiting for autopsy results to confirm whether it was a tick bite that caused her death.

A friend speaking on behalf of the family said Kenley Ratliff loved spending time outdoors with her family. If she was bitten by a tick they’re not sure where it may have happened.

Kenley was taken to the emergency room twice for strep throat and released. But when the fever didn’t come down she was admitted to the hospital.

“She was such a lovely happy bubbly girl two weeks ago and all of a sudden she’s gone,” said Nichol Kirby, family friend.

Cell phone videos provided by family shows 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff so full of life. She was a bubbly and happy little girl, who enjoyed taking Snapchat videos with her mom.

“She loved to dance, she loved music, she loved the Bruno Mars song that would sing in the backseat,” she said.

But something happened to Kenley over the weekend.

“Her mother and father cannot believe that she is gone that their baby girl is gone now,” she said.

Nichol Kirby is a family friend. She said Kenley was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children last Tuesday after her high fever didn’t break.

“She had a 104 degree fever and that fever remained about a 103.8 all week long up until her untimely death on Saturday morning at 2:45 a.m.” she said.

Kirby said Kenley was given an antibiotic and placed on a breathing tube while doctors tried to diagnosis her. She had a brain infection, swollen hands, and rashes all over her body.

“Her mother was holding her hand her little two year old hand was just so swollen it was almost the size of her mother’s,” she described. “She had purple rashes splotches all over her body and ununiformed pattern just all over little tiny purple spots big purple patches.”

Kirby said doctors treated Kenley for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as best as they could.

“Just the condition of this poor baby laying there the way she was it’s a mother’s nightmare a father’s nightmare,” she said.

Kirby said Kenley’s mother just wants to get the message out there to other families to always check for ticks.

“Everyone to be very diligent about checking their children for ticks, checking their animals for ticks making sure that those pets are treated,” she said.

Kirbay said Kenley’s mom doesn’t want this tragedy to 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 for the family has since raised more than $4,000 as of Tuesday night. A celebration of life for Kenley is taking place Saturday, June 10 at Hazelwood Christian Church from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Indiana State Health Department said it received 40 reported cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in 2016 and 30 reported cases in 2015.

Click here for tips on how to protect yourself from ticks.

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