Playing outside is a favourite pastime of children and pets. Unfortunately, romping outdoors comes with dangers of its own. If you suspect that your child or pet is suffering the effects of tick bites, read on. (Please note: if you identify any of the following symptoms, contact your vet or doctor immediately.)

Tick bite fever presents several symptoms, varying in severity.

In humans, tick bites usually occur during outdoor activities, such as camping or hiking. Transmitted by the bite of a tick, tick bite fever is a bacterial infection that requires treatment with antibiotics. Once a tick bites a human, an incubation period of five to seven days occurs before the person becomes symptomatic. Factors like age and the strength of a person’s immune system determine the severity of tick bite fever, as does the type of organism harboured by the tick in question.

Symptoms include severe headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms.

If you suspect your child has been bitten by a tick, thoroughly inspect her whole body. Look out for a small, black mark. Known as an eschar, the site of a tick bite resembles a small ulcer, approximately 2 – 5mm in diameter. These can be hard to spot, so do the inspection under a bright light, using a magnifying glass if needed. Eschars appear at around the same time the symptoms do. These are sometimes – but not always – accompanied by a rash, consisting of small red marks that are occasionally slightly raised. This appears on the limbs first, and then spreads to the rest of the body.

 If tick bite fever is suspected, seek medical advice in order to rule out any other illnesses.

The symptoms of tick bites often echo those of other diseases, including measles and German measles. Once a doctor has examined the child, confirming the fact that she has tick bite fever, a course of antibiotics will be prescribed. The good news is that tick bite fever is treatable, and once the full course of antibiotics has been taken, the bacteria is eradicated.

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For the most part, tick bites affect animals far more severely than they do humans.

If yours is an outside dog or cat, chances are, he’s going to pick up a tick at one time or another. Tick bites cause biliary fever, which can be fatal to dogs in less than 48 hours, making adequate tick control crucial. The biliary parasite is transmitted by ticks and infects the red blood cells of animals. This causes the red blood cells to die, resulting in the release if toxins that are then transformed by the liver into bile. The affected animal will then excrete it. This can cause permanent damage to your pet’s liver and kidneys, and if left untreated, can result in an incredibly painful death.

Look out for the following symptoms if you suspect your animal may be suffering as the result of tick bites:

Lethargy, listlessness; a loss of appetite; pale to whitish gums and eyelids, and a rapid heartbeat. Advanced symptoms include dark or red urine, laboured breathing, extreme lethargy and a weak, rapid pulse. If your animal exhibits any of the above, take him to the nearest vet immediately.

Monthly treatment for ticks will ensure that your feline and canine companions don’t fall prey to this painful, traumatic parasitical illness.

There is no vaccine available for tick-borne diseases in animals, so make sure that you treat your animals with veterinary-approved tick control. This is crucial, as cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals used in tick control methods for dogs. Never apply ANY repellent to your cats (or dogs) without first talking to your vet.

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Make sure you know how to take care of your whole family, by downloading our free Guide to Pest Identification at a Glance.



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Photo credit – Doglers