Doctors see an early increase in tick bites, Lyme Disease concerns

WELLESLEY, Mass. — For 2-year-old Piper Rosen, it started with an itchy head on Thursday night. It wasn’t until that next morning that her mother, Lori Rosen, said she found the culprit.

“This morning when I was putting her hair up in a ponytail, I found a tick on the back of her head.”

Rosen said over a video interview on Friday that she believes the tick must have latched onto her daughter’s head after she went outside for fresh air and played in the driveway.

Her first thought, she laughed, was to remove it immediately.

“Shoot where’s my tweezers, I’ve got to get this off of her fast!” said Rosen.

What normally would be a quick drive to the doctor’s office, turned into an email after Rosen said she realized that local offices have been inundated with people looking to get tested for COVID-19.

According to Lori Gara-Matthews, a Doctor at Pediatric Healthcare At Newton Wellesley, that inclination was correct.

Gara-Matthews told Boston-25 News over FaceTime Friday that many doctors offices and hospitals are now encouraging people to call facilities first, so they can set up video appointments to speak with patients remotely about tick bites.

She added that her office has been receiving several calls a day, a month or two early from when healthcare professionals generally see an increase in Lyme Disease concerns.

“We actually just sent out a message to the nurses to remind them of our tick protocol because it’s been so busy,” said Dr. Gara-Matthews.

Dr. Gara-Matthews explained that the early spike in tick bites could be attributed to the mild winter, but also because people are taking breaks from quarantining at home, to go on walks and hikes outside.

“People are really getting outside, not being at school, and trying to get their exercise in,” she said.

For people who do find a tick on their body, Dr. Gara-Matthews suggested calling a doctor right away if the exposure has lasted longer than 36 hours.

If exposure is less, she suggested keeping a close eye out for symptoms like a bulls-eye rash on the skin or a sudden fever.

While it’s not always necessary or recommended, she added that the tick can be placed in a plastic bag or jar and then sent to a lab for testing.

The best thing one can do, she reiterated, is to check the body thoroughly after going outside.

“Just checking for ticks and regularly making sure that they’re not in those warm nooks and crannies that they like to get into,” she said.