With summer coming and as COVID restrictions continue to lift, our children will be outside in the fresh air playing with others. While all this is positive, we can’t forget about unseen dangers, especially in the woods and even your own backyard. Yes, ticks can be dangerous, so be knowledgeable about how and why you should protect your child from them.
The Dangers Of A Tick Bite
Ticks seem to spread during the warmer months. They live near woods, bushes, and even in your own backyard. Children are inquisitive and love to explore, so they are apt to wander into areas infested with ticks.
You may not know your child has been bitten for several weeks. Most tick bites do not cause anything but a small amount of irritation, but a tiny tick can cause up to 15 tickborne diseases depending where you reside. Two common ones are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
The CDC estimates there are 476,000 cases of Lyme disease in the US each year, although less are reported. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick or deer tick. This particular species has doubled in the last 20 years, and is now in Ohio.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and a rash, but most cases are treated successfully with several weeks of antibiotics. If left undetected and therefore untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
This infection is another common bacterial one from a tick bite. The illness is spread from the bite of an infected wood tick, or dog tick. Although it was first detected in the Rocky Mountains, it is now quite common in the southeastern US. Symptoms are a high fever and a severe headache. A rash then appears on the wrists and ankles.
As with Lyme disease, antibiotics can treat Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever successfully. However if not treated, serious damage can occur to internal organs like the kidneys and heart.
How To Protect Your Child From Ticks
The following preventative measures apply to you as well. Don’t forget to check yourself. Ticks are barely the size of a poppyseed, so they are hard to spot without carefully looking for them.
Protect your family from tick bites by doing the following:
- Dress your children in light colored clothing as it’s easier to see a tick. Tuck pants inside socks, especially if you are going on a hike. Keep long hair in a ponytail.
- Check their clothing for any signs of ticks.
- Check everyone from head to toe including their scalp. Look behind the legs and ears, inside elbows, under armpits.
- Wash clothing and take a shower as soon as possible.
- Check your pets too!
In addition, use insect repellent. Check this CDC list of recommended types. Treat clothing with permethrin per CDC instructions, apply pesticides, and try to reduce any tick habitats around your home.