Did you think ticks were an “up north” problem? If you’re from the Northeast, like many of us, you’re quite likely very familiar. But, you have not escaped them. The University of Floridareports there are 5 different types of ticks found in Florida, the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, the Lone Star tick, the Gulf Coast tick, and the black-legged tick. Each of these can spread disease.
Neeta Connally, associate professor and director of the TickBorne Disease Prevention Laboratory at Western Connecticut State University, tells the Today Show that ticks are spreading to areas they weren’t reported in before. That means that every day there is a possibility that the kinds of ticks and the illnesses that they carry are growing all around you as well as in the places that you like to visit. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is carried by 3 of the ticks listed above and some people don’t even know what it is.
Danielle McNair was one of those people until her young son got sick and she didn’t know why.
A Mom’s Tick Research Saves the Day
While visiting his grandparents in LaGrange Georgia, Mason McNair – Danielle’s son, got a tick bite. His grandparents knew how to remove it properly and they did just that and moved along with their visit. A few days later the bite spot, his belly button, became red and swollen. His doctor gave him a 10 day round of antibiotics. Again, the family moved on. But at the end of the antibiotic round the boy become sicker. He was covered with a rash. The doctors dismissed it as a reaction to the drug. Danielle was not satisfied. She did her own research, consulted her sister- a veterinarian, and based on her son’s symptoms she became convinced that he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF.) The realization this form of tick-borne illness could possibly lead to amputation of arms, legs, fingers or toes, hearing loss, paralysis, or mental defect led her to take immediate action. She went back to her doctor with her findings and he found, through a specific screening for tick-borne disease, that she was spot on. He gave the boy Doxycycline, the specific antibiotic needed to treat RMSF. It was then that the child began to get better.
Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Responsibility Falls on Us
Danielle McNair’s story contains several lessons. The first lesson is to be aware of your surroundings. Know what’s out there and what can happen. Protect yourself when you go out in the woods, on hikes, into any outdoor venue, by using FDA approved bug repellent, dressing properly, and doing full tick checks when you come home. Also be sure to document if you do find a tick. If sickness occurs it’s best to make your healthcare provider aware up front. Then they know what they might be looking for.
Lesson two is to be an advocate for yourself and your family. Don’t be afraid to push for answers if you don’t trust the ones you are receiving. No one wants to imagine what might have happened if McNair hadn’t questioned her doctor’s findings and researched on her own.
Lesson three is to protect yourself constantly and that includes at home. Ticks don’t need deep dark woods to exist. They can be right in your own backyard. At Mosquito Squad of Northeast Florida, we urge you to take control of protection when on the road, but we’d like to help you release that control at home. Our tick control services can eliminate 85-90% of ticks living in your yard. We offer more than just control and protection, we offer peace of mind. Call us today and let’s talk about the plan that suits your needs best. No tick bites, no tick-borne disease.