Protecting Your Child From Ticks
Lyme Disease, Powassan, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever among possible diseases
Over the next couple of months, your child will get more tick bites and tickborne diseases than any other time of the year. But there are steps you can take to protect your little one from not only the annoyance of a bite, but the diseases caused by ticks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says tickborne diseases are on the rise, but a survey found that many people don’t take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against tick bites during warm weather.
Since the late 1990s, the number of reported cases for Lyme Disease in the United States has tripled, according to Rebecca Eisen, Ph.D., a research biologist, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Bacterial Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.
Powassan (POW) virus is an especially dangerous tickborne illness, according to the CDC. Approximately 75 cases of POW viruses were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.
“People with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain,” according to the CDC.
Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss.
According to the website, ticktexas.org, the most common tick-borne diseases in Texas are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Relapsing Fever.
The CDC offers these steps you can take to protect you and your child:
Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails
Repel Ticks on Skin and Clothing
- Use repellent that contain 20 percent or more DEET, or IR3535 on exposed skin or protection that lasts several hours.
- Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family.
Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
- If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
- If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.