We moved from the concrete jungle of Dublin where most wild life were crows and neighboring dogs, to the Disney themed area we’ve moved to in the US, that has introduced us to wildlife such as deers, rabbits, owls, eagles, squirrels, turkeys, skunks – AND, all the negative sides of living in the wild.
Although cute in Disney movies, some of these animals (also known as rodents) can cause some havoc in the hood. In the beginning it was a fantastic and I at times felt like humming the tunes from Snow-white, but soon discovered that they were called rodents for a reason;
- Skunks spread their “love” throughout the early mornings, so when letting the dog out one is greeted by a breeze of hard hitting odors making you teary eyed.
- Squirrels & Chipmunks will do whatever it takes to explore the garbage and that involves eating their way through the bin bags, spreading the trash all over the driveway or garage.
- Groundhogs dig tunnels, conducting guerrilla warfare on the owners and little can be done to stop this other than calling for the 2nd amendment.
But, the most severe threat is from one of the smallest creatures that inhabits the forest, and which moves around applying a ninja stealth tactics for attacking us humans.
Let me introduce the tick!
During a recent trip to the local (backyard) forest with the two youngest kids, we were exploring different animals from afar, looking at flowers and kicking around leaves.
We had a little snack break sitting on a few rocks, while animals were roaming around us. Nothing threatening of course, and it was almost a Disney moment as a cheeky squirrel were sniffing around us to get its teeth into our nutty snack-bars.
Later that evening, as I was battling my youngest explorer to fall asleep, I was gently caressing her neck. It sometimes calms her down and she falls asleep “quicker”.
Suddenly, my fingers felt some soft little item, which I initially thought was some stuck old food (saved for later) or a piece of jewelry. I decided to check and got the flash light. It was neither!
To my horror is was a foul little grey fecker stuck to my daughter’s scalp. I instantly recognized it as being a tick. All these years as a boy scout and learning about insects finally paid off.
My wife was wondering about the commotion as I was scrambling the iPad, trying to find the best method of removing ticks. When she discovered the tick issue she literally freaked. Within seconds, she was sitting on the bed crying and imagining all the different diseases she could catch from such a bite, and in particular Lyme disease. We went through most scenarios from limp amputation, long term paralysis, memory loss, severe fever and other extreme effects. Neither of these were realistic, but we worked through the emotions and my wife started to breathe calmly again.
To be honest, my biggest fear was Lyme disease, but it’s apparently so rare that they’ve stopped producing the vaccine for it.
I had seen my dad remove ticks from the family pets in the past, but it always seemed a little rough and I had no intentions of hurting my daughter. My sister was once bitten by one of these devils and she’s somewhat normal.
Other methods that I found on the net includes, of which none worked;
- Insect repellent
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Light a match, blow it out, then stick the hot end onto the end of the tick
- Use your finger to push the tick around and around – trying to make it dizzy
- Put dish washing soap on a cotton-ball and place it over the tick
I also found another important note while frantically searching the net for a solution. Please keep in mind that any remedies such as insect repellent, hot matches, nail polish remover, etc. could actually make things worse. These remedies might actually cause the tick to release toxins into the bloodstream, infecting you with any number of diseases.
Instead I applied the same technique my dad had perfected for years; cover the tick with toilet paper, gently use your fingers to get as close to the head of the tick as possible, squeeze your nails calmly towards the tick’s head and then jerk the little fecker hard … WITHOUT squeezing the body, as this could push toxins back into the blood stream.
It worked! And what’s even better, my daughter had fallen asleep during my investigations and hardly felt the pinch from me removing the beast.
Make sure you’ve managed to get the head out of the wound and clean the area with soap.
- If you have, then just keep monitoring your child or other victim for the Lyme disease signs, such as the known bulls-eye mark, or any other infection related symptoms such as fever, aches, rash etc.
- If you didn’t get the head out, then I would go to the doctor to get it treated.
Finally, I would suggest you keep the tick in a zip-lock bag and freeze the sucker. That way you can bring it to the doctor if needs be, and thereby get the correct treatment faster.
It has been about two weeks since our little incident and my daughter is doing great; no signs of Lyme disease, no fever, no aches … still the same little menace as before the bite!