As spring temperatures continue to rise, a new case report from the New England Journal of Medicine warning of the dangers of ticks is making headlines.
According to the May 1 report, doctors in Connecticut found a tick embedded into the eardrum of a nine-year-old boy who had been complaining of hearing buzzing noises.
The boy had been playing outside at school when it’s believed he came in contact with what was later identified as Dermacentor variabilis, commonly known as the American dog tick. While the boy was reportedly in no pain, the tick was found inside his inflamed right eardrum (tympanic membrane) but thankfully did not result in any hearing loss.
Doctors removed the tick through surgery and shared that there is no evidence to reveal signs of Lyme disease.
“One month later, the patient was doing well,” the report read. “He had no fever or rashes and the tympanic membrane had healed well.”
While ticks can be active year-round, tick bites are most common during the spring and summer months, and pose a serious health risk if an infected tick remains embedded in the body for more than a day.
The most common illness associated with tick bites is Lyme disease, caused by ticks infected with Borrelia burgdoferi bacteria.
Symptoms of Lyme disease
Lyme disease symptoms can often be mistaken for the flu. Within the first three to 30 days after a tick bite, a person can experience fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and fatigue.
A rash (Erythema migrans) at the site of the tick bite can occur in about 70 to 80 per cent of infections, on average a week after infection. The rash can grow up to 12 inches in size and may feel warm or hot to the touch.
Days to months after infection, symptoms can progress to include a severe headache, neck stiffness, additional rashes may develop on other areas of the body.
Facial palsy, arthritis, nerve pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, shooting pains or tingling in the hands or feet as well as problem with short-term memory.
Preventing tick bites
While many people associate ticks as living only in wooded areas, it’s possible to get a tick bite from your own backyard.
Before heading outdoors, be sure to treat your clothing and footwear with insect repellent that contains DEET, IR3535 or any other ingredient approved and registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
When returning indoors, be sure to check your clothing for ticks, and be sure to put any clothes worn into the dryer on high heat for a minimum of 10 minutes to kill any ticks.
Be sure to examine yourself, your clothing and your pet which can be carriers into your home. According to the CDC, showering within two-hours of being outdoors can help prevent the risk of developing Lyme disease as it can help wash off unattached ticks.
What to do if you’ve been bitten by a tick
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, the Mayo Clinic suggests removing the tick with fine-tipped tweezers, and seal the tick in a container and keep in the freezer. If you develop symptoms within a few days, bring the tick with you to your doctor.
Wash your hands and the bite site with warm water, soap or rubbing alcohol.
Contact your doctor if you are unable to remove the tick as soon as possible, if a rash appears and gets bigger or the bite site gets infected.