My daughter’s fifth grade class had an overnight encampment last week, and of course, hovering moms that we are, there were many concerns. Would they be warm enough, would they have enough to eat, would they be safe out in the scary school backyard? Silly worries, because of course, even soft suburban kids can survive one night in the “great outdoors”. But, one mom brought up a legitimate concern. She asked me if we should be checking for ticks when they came home. Absolutely is the answer. You should be checking kids after being outdoors in any grassy or wooded area. We all know about Lyme disease, but seems we have a new reason to check.
The state that brought us cowboy boots and Friday Night Lights is now sending atick-borne illness our way. Little is known about the Heartland Virus which is spread by the lone star tick. Recently, two people have died from its complications. So far, it has only affected people in Missouri and Tennessee.
Initial symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, including fever, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. While cases have only been reported in a few states, but even in areas not thought to breed this type of tick, these cases underscore the importance of seeing a doctor when you are ill and letting her know if you have spend time outdoors.
This summer, especially if you are camping or hiking, check for ticks. I usually remember to do this after I’ve poured my second glass of chardonnay on a beautiful summer night. It’s a drag. Do it anyway. The Heartland virus was only discovered a couple of years ago. Who knows what else might be lurking in these little buggers?