Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Well, That's One Tick Gone

I got a phone call from Virgo early this morning. She'd discovered a tick on her tiny baby's arm - they'd been out in the bush over the weekend - and getting it off without leaving anything behind was obviously going to be a two person job.

The trouble was exactly how we should remove it. The traditional methods involve either suffocating the little beastie with something like petroleum jelly or using fine pointed tweezers to grasp and twist it out. But these are not now encouraged because both have potential problems. Suffocating tends to cause the tick to inject more toxin before it either dies or backs out and there is a danger that some of its mouth parts may be left behind while with tweezers, unless you are very careful, there's a danger that you might force more toxin in while you are trying to remove it.

So what to do? Well apparently it's best to freeze the tick using an ether containing aerosol to kill the tick  and then either leave it to come out by itself or remove it with tweezers (or I suspect you could cover it with a piece of sticking plaster to pull it off although I have no experience in that working)). The problem was the baby is not yet two months old and so we were reluctant to use a spray on delicate baby skin.

Again what to do? So Virgo rang the Health Direct Help Line and they agreed we would be better to use a chemical free method. They suggested we loop a thread around the offending critter, pull it tight and lift it out. It worked. All that was left was a tiny puncture wound which we wiped with an alcohol wipe and covered with tape.

We're luckier here than those on the east coast because the ticks we have here are less of a problem than the paralysis tick that is found along the eastern seaboard. That doesn't mean they can't cause all sorts of problems like infection, lyme-like disease and allergic responses. They certainly can. My father became quite ill when a kangaroo tick hid itself in a fold of skin in his groin and caused all sorts of problems so I'm highly aware of how potentially dangerous a tick can be.

So we need to ensure that we take all necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our pets and there are some precautions that everyone can and should take if in tick areas. They are

  • wearing long sleeved shirts and long trousers and make sure that both are tucked in
  • wearing a hat with a wide brim
  • brushing all clothing before coming inside
  • using a DEET based insect repellant
  • check yourself carefully - and that includes groin, armpits and scalp
  • and pets should be inspected thoroughly if they go into tick areas and given tick preventative treatment regularly.


Jo said...

Yuck. However, I'm glad it worked for the baby. Never had to deal with a tick, not even on a pet as far as I remember. I shudder.

Helen V. said...

They are endemic in bush land here, Jo. Usually they don't cause much trouble to people - they prefer animals - but someone, or maybe one of the dogs, must have picked it up outside and so it made its way to her. Some people are allergic to them, though, and that or if it stays in place for a long period, is when it can get serious.

Satima Flavell said...

I guess I've been lucky - I brought my kids up on a farm but we were not troubled by ticks - neither humans nor livestock.

Helen V. said...

I've never had one either, Satima, and I've spent a lot of time in the bush one way and another, but Virgo found one on herself the day after the baby incident and her husband has also acquired one recently. It might be something to do with the holiday place where they stay which is on a largely uncleared bush block but I'm beginning to think, though, that some people are more prone to tick bites than others. Virgo has alway been a target for mosquitos as was my father while most of the time (although not always) they just buzz around me then leave for more attractive feeding places so maybe that's the reason.

Jo said...

When we were in the Caribbean one time, we were walking a boardwalk over marshland to get to a beach and I complained about the mozzies. Our Carib guide told me it was because I had more vitamin B in my blood and they were attracted to it. (Not ingested, just produced by my body). If that is so, maybe ticks like Vit. B too.

How do you say vitamin in Oz? In the UK its vit as in quit, in Canada it's vyt as in bite.

Helen V. said...

The pronunciation of vitamin is a bit mixed, Jo, about half and half I'd say. The older generation tend to say vit but the younger folk with the influence of US usage through advertising mostly say vite.