Mom Shares Scary Seed Tick Story To Warn Other Parents

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
A two-part collage of a seed tick story warning other parents and a hand covered with tick bites

Beka Setzer shared photos of daughter covered in 150+ seed ticks.

An Ohio mom is sharing a terrifying experience to warn parents of the dangers of seed ticks this summer. Last year, 3-year-old Emmalee was playing in a sprinkler outside before heading inside for her afternoon nap. While changing her little one, Emmalee’s mom noticed hundreds of black dots all over her daughter’s body. They were seed ticks, which required months of medicine and years of testing for Lyme disease.

Seed ticks are the larval form or juvenile version of a tick. They’re not fully grown and are tiny, so it’s easy to miss them because they look like specs of dirt. “Thinking they may have just been seeds, I tried to wipe then scrape one off and it was a TICK! She must’ve been playing in or near a nest of tick larvae and was covered,” Emmalee’s mom, Beka Setzer wrote on Facebook after the incident. “I spent nearly an hour and a half picking off well over 150 minuscule baby ticks off of her.”

“It wasn’t until I tried brushing them off with my hand that I noticed they weren’t coming off, and upon much closer inspection I noticed they were actually tiny bugs that were attached to her skin,” Setzer told CBS News. The mother of two spent hours removing the hundreds of seed ticks from her baby girl then gave her multiple baths and some Benadryl before washing all of her bedding. Since ticks are still an issue a year later, Setzer shared her family’s story on social media again to raise more awareness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, ticks are most active between April and September. To avoid a tick bite, the CDC recommends that you stay away from wooded and brushy areas that have high grass and leaf litter, stay in the center of marked trails on walks or hikes, and wear bug repellent on your skin and clothing that has 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. Regarding the repellent, the CDC issued this disclaimer: “Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing.”

If you do find a tick on you or your child, experts recommend using tweezers and grasping the tick’s body as close to the skin’s surface as possible then pulling upward with a steady, even pressure, the CDC explained. Try to stay patient as seed ticks are even smaller than the average adult tick and you don’t want to twist or jerk one and end up leaving the mouthparts in the skin. Once you’ve removed the tick, stick it in rubbing alcohol and clean the bite area with soap and water, an iodine scrub, or rubbing alcohol, the CDC recommended.

If you spot even one tick on your body you should shower ASAP in case there are more hidden on you. After that, use a mirror and search your entire body paying close attention to under arms, in and around ears, inside belly buttons, around the waist and any other areas where a tick could hide. It sounds like a scary and tedious process, but it only takes about 10 minutes and is so worth it to avoid diseases. Our family hikes a lot and often checks for and removes ticks. Once you’ve checked yourself and the kiddos check the family pet and all of the outfits you wore when you encountered the ticks. Wash the clothing with hot water and tumble dry on high heat for at least 10 minutes.

Symptoms of tick bites don’t mean you’ve caught something, but they can still be scary. The morning after Emmalee was bitten her mom said she woke up with a low-grade fever, red spots all over, and a “hard, large marble sized swollen lymph node.” The toddler was put on an aggressive antibiotics and antihistamines treatment plan and eventually had to have surgery on her lymph node when a cyst formed in the area. Emmalee’s mom continues to share their story to help other parents. “I want to encourage others to do their research so everyone knows what to look for to hopefully prevent a life of tick-related medical complications, she said. “If one person is spared this grueling and nerve-wracking experience I will consider my post a success.”

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