Last week, my daughter was on a field trip where they were playing a game called “Survival of the fittest”. As the name suggests, they were each “assigned” a certain animal (I believe she was a raccoon) and then spent the day running through the forest, finding prey and/or avoiding predators.
When I got the notice about her field trip, I had just recently run across a news report about a new tick-borne illness that may prove to be even worse than Lyme Disease, so my radar went up when I heard that they were going to be spending the day in the bush (when she got home, it was going to be very important that I check for ticks). For more information about this new tick-borne disease, called the Powassan virus, check out this video and share it with every parent you know.
My daughter and I have talked about the importance of tick prevention before (periodically, we will partake in a “geocaching adventure”, which almost always involves trudging through wooded areas and/or long grasses), so she knows some of the basics of protecting herself.
Since ticks don’t fly or jump, they typically end up on human ‘hosts’ by crawling on their shoes and working their way up from there (they can also attach themselves to long grasses and then transfer to people who brush up against them). Ticks are looking for exposed skin to feed on, so one of the best things kids can do to protect themselves is to wear fully-enclosed shoes, long pants (preferably tucked into boots or socks – a major fashion faux-pas, according to my daughter) and a long-sleeved shirt. Luckily for me, the day turned out to be cooler than it normally would be at this time of year, so my daughter didn’t put up an argument about these clothing requirements (other than the suggestion that she tuck her pants into her socks, of course!).
When she got home, she and I did a thorough “tick check” to ensure that she had no ticks on her body (I also shook out her clothes outside and then put them in the dryer on high for a while). I found a very helpful poster, created by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, that showed kids where on their bodies to look for ticks, so my daughter and I were able to use this as a guideline.
If you’re interested in finding out more about protecting your kids from ticks, check out my post “The Great Outdoors – Tick Prevention”. For those families who enjoy spending time in the woods, you may also wish to check out my post entitled “The Great Outdoors – Identifying poison ivy”.