Ticks and Children

Ticks are small, wingless arthropods (bugs) that commonly reside in tall grass or shrubs. As ticks attach themselves to birds, they can travel to all areas across Canada. Ticks attach to an animal/human to feed on a blood meal for growth. Most ticks in Newfoundland and Labrador do not carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease or other infections. The exception is the black-legged tick, which can transmit Lyme disease. Approximately 18 percent of tested black-legged ticks carry Lyme in this province. There are few incidents of infected tick exposure in humans. Most occur in wildlife and occasionally pets.

What parents can do to protect children from ticks:

  • Reduce exposure to insects and ticks at times when they are most active and in places they are known to thrive. Ticks breed in or near woodland areas, live in tall grasses, and bite more during the spring and fall. Avoid wooded and brushy areas and walk on cleared paths or walkways.
  • Place netting around strollers and other areas where children are resting to protect them from critters.
  • Prevent exposure by covering all areas of exposed skin. Light-colored clothes make it easier to see and remove ticks before the bite and do not attract mosquitos as much as dark clothing.
  • Depending on your child’s age, you can use insect repellent to lower their chances of being bitten by an insect.
  • There are many different kinds available and some work better than others. DEET gives the longest-lasting protection against mosquito bites.
    • Do not use on babies under six months old. Use mosquito netting and try not to be outside when insect activity is high.
    • For children six months to two years old: use insect repellent only when there’s a high risk of insect bites that can spread infections and diseases. Do not use more than once a day.
    • For children over two years old: use insect repellent up to three times a day.
    • When using insect repellent for your child, use just enough of the least-concentrated formula of DEET (ten per cent or less) on their exposed skin and clothing. Keep insect repellent away from their face, hands, and any irritated skin.
    • When returning inside, wash the skin well with soap and warm water to reduce unnecessary exposure to those chemicals in sunscreen or insect repellent
  • Check yourself, your family, and your pets after being in an area where ticks may be present. Check hair, under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, and around the waist.

If a tick is found on a person or animal, it should be removed as quickly as possible by grasping the mouthparts with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and carefully detaching from the skin. Removing it within 24-36 hours can help prevent infection.

Preserve live tick (if possible) in a small container with slightly damp cotton and take it to your local public health office or emergency department. Public Health will provide follow-up advice.

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Last updated: 2024-03-27