Labor Day may mark the end of summer, but there’s still time for tick bites unless families take precautions.
The end of summer and beginning of fall are a great time for outdoor activities, but that means keeping company with outdoor pests, including those creepy, crawly external parasites known as ticks. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and Lyme Disease are common tick-borne illnesses in the Midwest. They can affect kids and adults, although some may have a more potent effect on kids.
Tick bites can lead to rashes, fevers, chills, aches and pains with a severity and duration ranging from mild to serious. Recently, two cases of a new tick-borne illness, the Heartland Virus, made headlines. The virus is characterized by low white blood cell counts, fever, chills and diarrhea.
“The risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness really depends on what type of tick bit you and how long it was attached,” said Mercy Clinic pediatrician Marissa Stock, MD. “If a rash develops at the site where the tick was, or you get a fever in the days or weeks after a tick bite, you should see a doctor.”
Dr. Stock recommends that families take precautions to avoid tick bites. “You can reduce your chances of getting a tick-borne illness by using repellents, checking yourself and your little ones for ticks and showering after being outdoors,” she said.
These recommendations are from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“If you find a tick, be careful about how you remove it,” Dr. Stock said. “The best way to remove a tick is to use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible, pull it straight out and then clean the bite area with soap and water.”
People can take additional precautions by keeping yards trimmed, deterring wildlife and using bug sprays as directed. Family pets should be on flea and tick preventatives to keep them from tracking pests into the home.