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What to do if a child catches a tick - remove it yourself or go to the hospital?
When it turns out that there is an intruder on our baby's skin, we always think about removing it as soon as possible. However, keep in mind that this should be done professionally and completely. Under no circumstances should you try to do it manually or with tweezers- this behavior can lead to even stronger tick biting into the skin or its fragmentation, which absolutely can not be allowed. Fortunately, it is currently available on the market many tick removers and it's worth having at least one of them in an emergency at home. Among them are, among others a pump, ticks or a lasso to remove uninvited guests from the skin. However, if we do not feel confident in performing such manual activities, it will be safer to immediately go to the hospital, where medical personnel will not only professionally remove the tick, but also the doctor will be able to assess the risk of potential infection with tick-borne disease and instruct the parent accordingly.
Read how to remove a tick yourself at home.
What is the risk of a tick bite?
It is estimated that ticks of the genus Ixodes occurring in Poland, in some areas they can be infected up to 25% by pathogenic bacteria - Borrelia spirochetes - the cause of the infamous Lyme disease (Lyme disease).
Infection can occur not only after biting, but also rubbing into the wounded skin of a crushed tick or its feces. The most characteristic symptom is the appearance on the skin of migratory erythema, but up to 20% of cases occur without it.
Lyme disease can occur and manifest itself very differently, depending on the phase of the disease. However, it should be remembered that if left untreated, it can have serious consequences in a few years, such as: neurological complications in the form of nerve palsy and meningitis, as well as myocarditis threatening our health and life.
An equally dangerous disease, which we can contract after a bite by a tick, istick-borne encephalitis. It is a viral disease caused by family viruses Flaviviridae, which, unfortunately, penetrate the human bloodstream extremely quickly after a bite, so the rapid removal of the tick does not provide any protection against infection.
This disease usually occurs in two stages: the first occurring in the form flu-like symptoms which disappear spontaneously and the second one develops after about 2-3 weeks in the form of an extremely dangerous neuroinfection. Its effect may include nerve damage and associated sensory and paresis disorders, as well as memory impairment.
Currently, however, there is luck tick-borne encephalitis vaccinewhose adoption can protect us against the dangerous and unpleasant effects of this disease.
Another tick-borne disease isbabesiosis - a parasitic disease caused by protozoan Babesia living inside erythrocytes. This disease is extremely similar to malaria and can be a significant cause anemia, however, most often it affects patients with impaired immunity, e.g. after spleen removal. After being bitten by an infected tick, we can also get it granulocytic anaplasmosis, similar in its symptoms to the familiar flu, or else tularemiawhich usually occurs in the form of lymphadenopathy, general breakdown and exhaustion, and in more severe cases pneumonia may also occur.
Disturbing symptoms after a bite - what to expect and what to do then?
Normally at the bite site may appear skin redness and swelling. The resulting toxic-inflammatory lesion does not protrude above the level of the skin, usually does not exceed 5 cm and disappears within a month - this is what it looks like when bitten by a "healthy" tick.
The most recognizable symptom, pathognomonic for Lyme disease, is extremely characteristicmigratory erythema. It occurs in the form of erythematous lesions with a booster appearance shooting target - in the middle, at the injection site, there is a white circle surrounded by redness, on the perimeter of which there is an additional red border with each day increasing its diameter. Unlike normal erythema after contact with an uninfected tick, this symptom only appears 7-14 days after the insect bite. In addition, this symptom is really hard to miss, because its diameter usually exceeds the 5 cm border.
Other symptoms that may accompany the bite of a parasite infected with other pathogens are flu-like symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, joint or muscle pain.
As soon as we notice any disturbing symptoms that may be related to a tick bite, do not hesitate, immediately contact a specialist. If it turns out that this is nothing serious and we are oversensitive, we will be able to sleep peacefully. However, if it really turned out that the nagging symptoms are caused by tick-borne disease, then quick and precise diagnostics, followed by appropriate and effective therapy.
To prevent tick bites, it's best to apply in advance appropriate prevention, because, as we all know, prevention is better than cure. So let's remember to go to the forest or to more overgrown areas,wear clothing that covers the body as tightly as possible.
Let's assume for yourself and your child long pants, long-sleeved sweatshirt and covered shoes- in this way it will be much more difficult for the tick to attach to the skin. Let's also avoid deviations from the designated paths and venturing into the thicket of plants, because it is easiest to contact the tick in thickets. After each walk you should also be sure to carefully examine the whole body to make sure that we didn't bring any uninvited guests from the trip.
In addition, there is also three-dose vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis. Ask a specialist about the possibility of using it for you and your child, who will discuss its specification and consider the existence of contraindications for such vaccination.
Let's remember then about proper prevention protecting us and our children from tick bites and all its consequences, because as we know, prevention is better than cure. However, if we can bring an uninvited guest from the walk, let's try to remove him completely, or leave it to specialists. After such an incident, we should pay close attention to skin symptoms and other symptoms occurring in tick-borne diseases that may appear even after a long time. In the event of their occurrence, we should immediately visit a doctor who will collect a thorough interview from us and direct us to appropriate examinations, to confirm or exclude illness, and if necessary also implement effective treatment.