First, how wonderful it is that your children are outside – getting fresh air and vitamin D, enjoying creative play, and getting exercise. But along with the benefits come annoying bugs and insects: mosquitoes, bees, and ticks to name a few. Unfortunately, some of those ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Fortunately, finding a tick on your child in North Carolina does not necessarily mean that your child has been infected with any kind of disease. Deer ticks, the ticks that can transmit Lyme disease, need to be embedded on a person’s body for 36 hours before they are actually able to transmit disease. Dog ticks can transmit RMSF only if embedded for more than 24 hours.

Active tick season in our area is from April to September/October. During that time, you can take precautions to prevent a tick-borne disease:

  1. Do daily tick checks. If you are checking your child daily for ticks and remove them, the tick is not embedded long enough to transmit disease.
  2. Use repellant on exposed skin and clothing. Choose one with 20-30% DEET. Be sure to use the product according to the directions and wash it off at the end of the day.

If you find a tick on your child, you do not need to panic. With tweezers, grasp the tick close to your child’s skin and pull up with a slow and even pressure. It is okay if parts of the tick remain behind; the body is able to work it out, much like a splinter. The bite area should be observed for the next 30 days. Watch for a very distinct, expanding red rash that may look like a bull’s-eye. Call your doctor if your child develops flu-like illness or rash. Antibiotics or other treatments may be recommended.

[For more information, check out these Web sites – http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html and http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/]