Did You Check for Ticks Today?

One of our staff, Kacie Wagner, is going through a scary time with her two-month-old son, Jett. She asked us to share her story in hopes of educating others to check for ticks everyday.

Kacie and Jett

Kacie’s family was in Wisconsin over the 4th of July for their annual trek to Washington Island, the northern most part of Door County. They arrived, spent a few days unpacking, cleaning inside, and went out onto the deck to relax when it was time for Jett to eat. For some reason, Kacie pulled back the shoulder of his onesie.

She was horrified to see a tick on him. She had changed him completely less than an hour ago and saw nothing. They had not even been outside other than to unload the car and run to the grocery store!

unusual tick

But, the tick had attached to Jett. They knew how to properly remove a tick to be sure to get the head out. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. The head was still stuck in Jett. They had to work a bit, but were able to remove the head and thoroughly clean the area. Not the way to start a family vacation!

The next day they were in touch with their pediatrician and knew what to watch for after a tick bite. Jett seemed no worse for the wear and they went on with their vacation.

Back At Home

After returning home, ten days after removing the tick, Kacie noticed a faint rash around the bite area. They started Jett on an antibiotic as a precaution.

The rash continued to develop and turned into a textbook example of a “Bulls-eye” rash. He started running a fever. His temperature quickly rose to 103 and Kacie was off to the ER with Jett.

bullseye rash from tick

The doctors were concerned. Hearing the local doctor start the conversation with “So, we just got off the phone with Mayo…”  She knew that meant they were staying a while.

Jett was admitted and put on I.V. antibiotics for about 7 days. His fever subsided. He was fussy for several days, probably from being achy Kacie thinks. And the I.V. port, while necessary, didn’t help his comfort.

Baby with IV port and covering

But he was able to nurse and nap and generally do what two-month-olds do. All and all, probably harder on mom and dad than it was on baby Jett.

Baby Jett waving hiWhat’s Next?

That is the big unknown. Jett is doing well. His blood work is coming back negative for Lyme. Doctors will follow him over the next few months and repeat the blood work. That is part of the trouble with Lyme disease is people often test negative initially and it may take time for something positive to show up.

Doctors have told Kacie that if Jett does test positive for Lyme, he might be the youngest case on record in Iowa. Not a title you want your baby to hold!

It Can Happen To Anyone

The reason we are sharing Kacie’s story with you is at her request. After long days and nights in a hospital room, she asked us to remind everyone to take ticks seriously. Don’t fall into the illusion that ticks are a worry just for campers or outdoorsy folks or for farm dogs running around outside all day. They can be a problem for anyone—even babies.

We mistakenly think of ticks living in trees and dropping on us from above. That is a tick myth Kacie hopes to break. Ticks live on the ground in the grass. Ticks do like to crawl upward and will use anything or anyone to do that. That is one reason why you often see ticks attached to the scalp or ears or in Jett’s case, his shoulder.

Check For Ticks

Kacie’s story is a wake-up call for us all. Check your clothes, your head and ears, (your whole body really) after you’ve been outside. Be sure to check for ticks on kids often and not just after they’ve been hiking or camping. If they are outside running around in the backyard, they can easily bring in a tick. Ask your family doctor what she recommends for a bug spray that may keep ticks off clothes and skin.

The same goes for your protecting your pets. Be sure your dog is on something to prevent ticks (and fleas and Heartworms). Check your dog often for ticks as well. Discuss with your veterinarian if your dog is a candidate for vaccinating against Lyme disease.

It only takes a minute. Make checking for ticks a daily habit for you and your family.

Kacie Wagner has been with Den Herder Veterinary Hospital for almost ten years. She is a true team player assisting the doctors as well as handling reception duties in the front office. Kacie is also our photographer and has her own photography business, Kacie Wagner Photography. She and her husband Mike have two older sons at home, Beau and Stone. They are also pet parents to Apollo, a Boxer, and Chloe, a very charmed and often grumpy princess of a cat.