Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Travelling Mishaps: Swedish Ticks

What I am about to disclose is most definitely not one of my proud parenting moments. In fact, it is one that I wish never happened and that I could forget. Of our whole trip and all the different problems we encountered, this was the one that Cam and I wish we could go back in time and erase. However, as a parent you realize you cannot protect your child from all harm. When we were in Finnhamn, Sweden, the island a 3 hour ferry ride from Stockholm, Etta got a tick!!!

Read on if you have the stomach for it. I do not know much about ticks but have learnt a little bit about Swedish ticks from talking to a nurse in Stockholm

1. What is a tick? A tick is a gross bug that has pincers and bites into your skin. They feed off of you until you pull them off and they are almost impossible to kill. Click on ticks to see a picture of the Swedish ticks... IF YOU DARE!

2. How do you get a tick? They don't move fast or jump. How do they get on you then? Well they usually slowly crawl up you off of low bushes and long pieces of grass.

Where we stayed when the tick attacked my baby.
3. What is the harm? If having a bug feeding off you is not enough to make you squeamish and want to run the other direction, then you should know about two diseases that you can get from Ticks in Sweden. One is Lyme disease and the other is TBE (Tick Born Encephalitis). TBE is very uncommon in children under the age of 7 but most people over 7 and living in tick-infested areas get a vaccine against TBE. The potential consequences of both of these diseases are a bit scary, and definitely not anything that you would want your 10 month old daughter to experience.

The Incident:
Cam and I knew that there were ticks in the Stockholm area. We made a point of checking ourselves and most importantly Etta every morning and night. We checked all her cute little baby rolls and saw no ticks. On a Wednesday we saw a small black dot. Cam and I both looked at it and said "That's odd... She has a scab on her leg." I pulled at it a bit but then I thought that it was kind of weird to pull off your babies scab so I stopped.  We monitored the scab for 3 days. On the 3rd day it was considerably bigger. I said to Cam "That is weird that her scab is still bleeding." Cam decided to pull the scab off. He looked at Etta and said "Ok hunny, I am going to pull the scab off in 1, 2, 3!!!" That is when Cam yelled as he ran to the bathroom and got rid of the scab. He came back with a look of horror on his face. "That was no had was a tick"

Our worst nightmare in Stockholm came true. Not only did Etta get a tick on her, we let it feed off of her for 3 whole days! The day we discovered the tick also happened to be the day that we had  train booked to continue our journey towards Hamburg, Germany.

Problem Solving:
What do you do when you find a tick on your daughter the same morning that you are supposed to leave at 12:30 pm for another country? Well you take care of your daughter and you don't worry about the future events. In Stockholm the only place Canadian tourists can go for health care easily is the hospital. Off we went to the children's hospital in Stockholm at 8 am.
Surprisingly emergency took us in at 9am and we talked with a nurse that lives in the area where there are ticks. She remembered pulling hundreds of ticks off of her kids growing up after they would play outside in the bush. She told us that right now there was nothing we could do but wait for symptoms. The primary symptoms were a red ring around the bug bite which usually indicates Lyme disease and fever which indicates TBE. After some reassurance from the nurse that things would be okay, we were off back to the hotel we were staying and then on to the 12:30 pm train.

I am thankful that Etta's tick experience had no drastic outcomes and that my baby is still a healthy little girl. However, I am sorry for the number of scabs that I have pulled off Etta since then and the poor zebra spider that Cam discovered in Etta's room and quickly mutilated because he thought it was a tick.
Perhaps the ticks were lurking in this forest. 

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