Q. We recently moved to a new home with a wooded backyard. I am concerned about ticks. Is there anything we can do to protect our kids from tick bites? And what should we do if we find a tick on one of our children?
Ticks are parasites that can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and ehrlichiosis. Anyone who spends time outdoors should be familiar with ticks and tick-borne diseases. The following measures can be taken to protect your family from ticks:
• Use insect repellant that contains DEET
• Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are more easily seen
• Tuck pant legs into socks when in heavily wooded areas
• Check children and pets daily for ticks
If you find a tick, it is important to carefully remove the tick as soon as possible. Use tweezers to grasp the tick close to its head or mouth. Pull it out with a slow and steady motion (do not twist). Avoid crushing or squeezing the tick.
If the head of the tick remains embedded, it can be removed using a needle, just as you would remove a splinter. If you are unable to remove all parts of the tick, mark the area with a pen and seek medical attention.
Finally, clean the area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Save the tick in a jar in case symptoms of infection develop over the next two weeks.
Most ticks do not carry diseases; therefore, no medical treatment is necessary for routine bites. Signs of medical complications include the following:
• A rash of any kind
• Redness, swelling, pain or drainage at the site of the bite
• Fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, joint pain
If any of these signs or symptoms develops within the two weeks following a tick bite, seek medical treatment right away. Tick-borne diseases are typically treatable with antibiotics, but it is important that the treatment is started early.