Everyone who knew 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff, aka “Kenley Boo,” remembers a bright, vivacious toddler with big brown eyes.


Her family and loved ones are now struggling to cope with the loss of the little girl, whom doctors believe succumbed to a disease caused by a tick bite.

In early June, Kenley was twice admitted to an emergency room for strep throat and a fever. As WISH reports, when her fever wouldn’t break the Plainfield, Indiana, toddler was admitted to Indianapolis’s Riley Hospital for Children.

The toddler had endured a 103.8 degree fever for nearly a week.

Family friend Nichol Kirby told WISH that in addition to the high fever, the toddler had a brain infection, swollen hands, and rashes all over her body.

“She had purple rashes splotches all over her body in an un-uniformed pattern just all over little tiny purple spots big purple patches.”

Doctors placed Kenley on antibiotics and inserted a breathing tube as they worked diligently to treat the little girl, whom they suspected had contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a tick-borne disease caused by a bacteria. It can be severe or even fatal if it isn’t treated within the first few days after symptoms appear.

Typical symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. A rash may develop, but is not always present within the first few days, and in some patients, it may never develop.

The disease is spread through the bite of an infected tick.

Pictures shared by supporters of Kenley’s family on a GoFundMe page set up on their behalf, show the spots that began developing all over the girl’s tiny body.


Sadly, after days of battling the infection, Kenley passed away in the early morning of June 3. According to WISH, her family is awaiting autopsy results to confirm the cause of death.

The CDC states that cases of RMSF in the United States have been reported since the 1920s, but incidences have increased during the past decade. However, during the same time period, the number of fatalities caused by the disease have decreased to less than one-half of one percent of cases.

According to the CDC, the antibiotic doxycycline is usually administered as the first round of treatment for children and adults, and is most effective if taken before the fifth day of symptoms.

In the United States, ticks that carry RMSF include the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick.

Although Kenley is known to have loved the outdoors, her family does not know where she may have been bitten by a tick.


According to Kirby, Kenley’s mother wants to be sure no other family ever experiences the heartache she has by checking their children and pets for ticks, saying she urges “Everyone to be very diligent about checking their children for ticks, checking their animals for ticks, making sure that those pets are treated.”

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