Parenting Win of the Week: Tick Season

How to keep you and your kids safe during tick season.

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Photo by: rbkomar

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There is so much to love about summer! Lazy days, long nights, and so many fun outdoor activities. What’s not to love? Bugs. Some are just pesky, but the ones that truly scare me are ticks. And of course, without fail every season, we hear just how much worse tick season is getting. So, I consulted an expert, Dr. Zane Saul, an infectious disease doctor who works at Yale’s Children’s Hospital in New Haven, about what we need to know about ticks and tick prevention.

Is this really the worst summer for ticks or is this being over exaggerated in the media?

Unfortunately, this is the worst summer yet for ticks. It’s all due to the weather — our warmer winters don’t allow ticks to die and they proliferate throughout the year. Testing is up exponentially and we’ve seen disease start as early as April (it usually starts in the summer). July and August though are the worst months for ticks.

What are we worried about with ticks?

Some ticks carry disease. Mainly we are looking at babesios, a form of parasite transmitted, anaplasmosis, or the more commonly known Lyme Disease. Some people can end up hospitalized and most of them don’t even know they were bit by a tick.

Should we be doing tick checks on our kids or ourselves?

Absolutely, especially with kids. Get them in from the outdoors and before you get them in the bath or shower, look them over — especially in those hard to see places like their hairline or their back. Keep in mind at this time of year in their nymph stage they can be as small as the tip of a pencil. Remove the ticks promptly. Most diseases need ticks in place for 18 hours or more.

How do we remove a tick if we spot one?

When you remove a tick you want to remove it whole if you can. You don’t want to smash or crush — use tweezers and remove by head of the tick and tug it out intact if you can. If you crush it, sometimes the tick will regurgitate their insides and transmit disease.

Do we save the tick?

Many health departments have a way to send the tick in for testing to see if it carries a disease. You’ll want to capture it live and put it in a baggie. Go to your local health dept website and see what their protocol is for testing.

Is there a way to help prevent tick bites?

Tick repellant is the best way. That comes in the form of a bug spray with DEET. Avon Skin So Soft and Off Deep Woods both contain DEET strong enough for ticks. If someone is hiking or camping you may want to consider buying a spray for their clothing to repel ticks as well. If your kids are playing in the grass, try to keep them from playing in areas by lots of trees or bushes, but really the best way is to spray them and do tick checks.

How do I know if my kid might have disease from a tick?

We are looking for fevers that last more than 48 hours, flu-like symptoms. I know this can be symptoms of COVID-19 and other illnesses as well, but if your kid isn’t feeling well, you should get them to the doctor to be evaluated. They can be treated with antibiotics.

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