Monday, May 19, 2008

To Spray or Not to Spray

I live in the heart of the pinelands of New Jersey. This means that ticks and Lyme disease are a HUGE concern of mine. About a month ago after playing in the yard Madison came running up to me screaming that she had "an ant" crawling on her arm. Well what she thought was a ant was really a tick. I quickly removed it from her arm, calmed her down and then proceeded to do a thorough tick check all over her body. Immediately my father and Justin wanted to spray the yard for ticks before letting Madison play out back again. I refused to let them do it because although it is supposedly safe to be around after the spray has been down for 24 hours I didn't want to run the risk of exposing Madison to any weird chemicals or add any chemicals to the ground (goes against my desire to be a greener family). Ever since that day I've just made sure to check Madiosn every time we are done playing outside. This is of course a job made much easier with her fair skin and blond hair!

Well bright and early this morning Madison walks up to me with both hands on her neck asking me "when did I get a button?". I lifted her hair to discover that her "button" was an embedded tick! I'm not sure exactly when the disgusting little bugger crawled onto her body but I do know that I checked all weekend and that it was not there last night which means it was either in my house or on her body and I just didn't find it in time. I've plucked ticks off of our various pets a number of times but when I found it on my little girl I completely forgot everything I needed to do and instead ran her over to my parent's house (thank God they are next door) for help from my mom! Mom smeared the tick with Vaseline and waited for it to back out (various feelings on this method). Unfortunately it never backed out so she grabbed tweezers and tried to pull it. The body came off but the head stayed embedded. I of course started freaking and was debating between just taking her to school and calling the doctor from there or staying home from school to take her to the doctor's as soon as they opened. After I calmed down I decided to call from school and see what they said. The nurse on the phone informed me that since the whole body was removed the head would die off and that I just needed to look for signs of Lyme for the next 30 days. No need to go into the office.
The signs to look for are:
  • a bulls eye rash which can appear anywhere on the body, not just at the bite site. It might also not appear at all in some Lyme patients
  • a low grade fever
  • joint and or muscle aches and pains

I've also looked up different recommendations for removing ticks. I learned that you are NOT supposed to use petroleum jelly or a match (well the match I thought was kind of a given). Instead use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull on it without twisting or yanking until the tick releases itself. Place the tick in a jar with alcohol or a baggy in the freezer and save it in case you get sick and need to id it later.

At this point I am considering spraying our backyard in order to keep this from happening too often this summer but if you have any other ideas for ridding the yard of ticks I would love to hear them.

Some helpful sites on ticks and Lyme are:


Dana said...

i saw this thing on Oprah about what not to do when you have a tick on you... They saw not to use vasoline because the tick could emmbed itself further.. Glad you caught it!!

Andrea said...

Ohh, I HATE ticks!! They scare me too with the whole lyme's disease thing! I don't have any helpful hints though...although I don't think I would spray my backyard either if I didn't have too...

Mommy Mechanics said...

Oh boy ticks are the worst, I don't know any tricks either but I think as long as you keep checking her head to toe everyday you should be ok. My parents have a lot of ticks up at their house and with 2 dogs they often bring them in. So maybe even if she doesn't play outside I would still check the sheets and vacuum a little extra and do a scalp check everyday. Good luck, and yes thankgoodness for blonde hair and light skin lol.

Danielle said...

I a pretty sure my mom used a match stick- that Sadistic B*TCH. Just Kidding! UGH I would have totally been freaking out too and I have pulled them off of dogs plenty of times. I hear you on sprayig. I would be torn as well- but you don't want Madison exposed again. Maybe someone has some good suggestion.