“Tick – Talk” from Your School Nurse
Camping, hiking, gardening and just playing outdoors are all great spring and summer activities, but don’t forget about the ticks that may be in the same environment! The Northwoods of Wisconsin has a very abundant tick population and also one of the highest rates of Lyme’s Disease (tick-borne illnesses). And, over the last few years Wisconsin has seen an increase in Lyme’s Disease cases. All ticks can transmit Lyme’s Disease; it’s not necessarily limited to deer ticks. In some species and life stages, ticks are so small they can be difficult to see but all hungrily look for animals and people to bite!
You can find ticks in various environments, but most often they are in or near wooded areas. They hide under leaves, in the grass and on branches, and in the height of the season they practically rain down for the treetops! Ticks also feed on birds and mammals, which play a role in maintaining them and the pathogens (germs and bacteria) they carry.
There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:
- Avoid tick-infested areas and sitting directly on the ground.
- Avoid sleeping with pets and allowing pets on your furniture – ticks can travel from your furry animal and onto the skin of your family. Maintain your family pet under a vet’s care by putting dogs and cats on tick medicine or using a tick collar.
- Frequent tick checks are probably your BEST protection from tick-borne illnesses. Perform an entire body check (as well as your clothing) after being outdoors, even if you’re just in your own yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find! (please see tips for tick removal below). Check your children for ticks, especially in the hair.
- Removing ticks before they adhere to the skin prevents transmission of infection.
- Use EPA approved repellents with DEET (on skin and clothing) or permethrin (on clothing). Always follow product instructions!! Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding the hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Showering within 2 hours of coming indoors has shown to reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick.
What to do if you are bitten by a tick
- Remove an attached tick as soon as you notice it—teach children to seek adult help for tick removal. Improper removal can increase the chances of infectious transmission thus developing Lyme’s Disease or other related tick-borne illnesses.
- Use a fine point tweezers and grasp tick by the head. Remove the tick with a steady pull straight up away from the skin. Never squeeze, twist, or yank the body of a tick, and never put substances or fluids on the tick.
- Watch for signs of illness such as rash, fever, or flu-like illness and contact your health care provider if these develop. Many rashes that do develop after a tick bite may not present as the “classical bull’s eye” rash. You may see a solid red rash - possibly 3 inches in diameter or larger, and it may be smaller too.
(above information taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and various Lyme’s Disease/ Tick publications)
Stay Safe and Healthy – from your School Nurse, Mrs. Jacob!!