Any time I get a call from the school nurse,I know it’s not good. I’ve gotten calls about broken arms and feet. Pink Eye and broken eyeglasses. But perhaps the scariest call was one I got just last week.
The school nurse at the school where my youngest child attends called with the news that a tick had been removed from his neck.
As my head reeled from the news, the nurse said that the good news was that it was not embedded, they got the whole thing out, and the tick in question was waiting for me to take to the pediatrician’s office.
Well, thank goodness for small favors.
I answered the nurse’s questions.
No, we don’t have a pet.
No, we have not been wading through any fields with high grasses. So, where on earth could my son have picked up a tick??
When I arrived at school shortly after the dismissal buses left, the circle of teachers hanging about outside the nurse’s office chattering about things like “Lyme Disease” and “they’re running rampant this year” were not comforting words to encounter at all.
“Emm, hello? I’m the mom with the kid with the tick,” I said, trying to drop the hint that the teachers should watch what they have to say lest an extremely freaked out neurotic parent happened to be in the hallway.
Once in the nurse’s office, I found my son happy and not freaked out at all but seemingly fascinated at the tiny parasite that had tried to suck his blood. The tick was safely contained within a prescription medicine bottle. The child was actually concerned for the tick’s well-being. Was he lonely or hungry in there? Would he run out of oxygen? Apparently, my son was under the impression he had acquired a new pet.
According to an article in yesterday’s Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, tick season will come on earlier this year and be more severe than in recent years because of the warmer weather. And, as the earth heats up, more severe than normal tick seasons will unfortunately become the norm.
Tips to avoid ticks include:
- Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts when walking in wooded and grassy areas. (The only thing is, my child got a tick simply by being out on the school playground).
- Use an insect repellent with DEET
- Those with long hair should tie it back when hiking or gardening.
- After spending time outdoors, thoroughly check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks.
- Stay on trails when you hike. If you leave the path, wear long pants tucked into your socks.
- If you find ticks, remove them immediately. Pinch the tick near its mouth and pull it out slowly in a continuous motion. Don’t twist the tick because doing so may leave mouth partsembedded in the skin
The good news for my son and for those of us living up north:
My son’s tick friend was a common Dog Tick or Wood Tick. These ticks do not carry Lyme’s Disease.
Deer Ticks, the Lyme’s Disease carrying variety, are less common in Northern areas like Western New York and there are very few cases of Lyme’s Disease.
So, enjoy the outdoors this spring and summer, but if someone (like my son’s classmate) says there is a small bug on you, don’t take it for granted. Let’s be safe out there!