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Mom notices tiny black dots covering her child's skin and thinks nothing of it, but soon after she realizes the cause she rushes her child to the doctor

Posted May 23

Beka Setzer’s daughter was enjoying playtime in the summer sun, running through the sprinklers and rolling around in the grass. But when little Emmalee was tuckered out and came inside to take a nap, Setzer noticed miniscule black dots covering her daughter’s skin.

Seeing spots

“I just happened to notice tiny (and I mean TINY) little black dots all over her legs, abdomen, arms and armpit area,” Setzer said in a Facebook post.

Thinking they were just little seeds the child picked up from playing outside, Setzer tried to wipe the spots away, and when that didn't remove them, she tried to gently scrape them away, which didn’t work either. With each failed attempt at removing the black dots, her fear heightened as she realized her daughter was in danger.

The culprit

“It was a TICK!” Setzer said.

Emmalee’s body was covered with hundreds of blood-sucking ticks—enough to make anyone’s skin crawl.

The child unknowingly encountered a tick nest while playing outside in the sprinklers, and the poor girl had to bear through very painful consequences. For an hour and a half, her mom picked off the miniscule bloodsuckers from her skin one by one, and then gave her repeated dish soap baths.

After Setzer made sure to thoroughly clean her daughter’s bedding, toys and anything else she came in contact with after the tick encounter, she gave her daughter some Benadryl and put her to bed. But the worst was yet to come.

Waking up in alarm

The morning after Emmalee’s scary meeting with the ticks, things became more frightening. The bites from the ticks left the child’s skin covered in red boils, a fever and a lymph node swollen to the size of a marble. Setzer rushed her daughter to a doctor.

The doctor put Emmalee on aggressive ATB's and antihistamines in the hopes of clearing her skin and restoring her back to normal.

Why so tiny?

Let’s get to know the little creatures responsible for the Setzers’ traumatic experience. The miniscule black dots in Setzer’s pictures are probably not what come to mind when you think of ticks. In her post, she identifies them as seed ticks, which is not an individual tick species, but a stage in every tick’s life cycle.

Specifically, Emmalee was covered with tick larvae, recently hatched and resembling poppy seeds with six legs.

Tick larvae or seed ticks are especially dangerous to your children because they immediately seek a host after hatching and will attach themselves to the first one they come in contact with. That, plus their miniscule size presents a big risk to children.

Spreading awareness

Emmalee’s encounter with the tiny black dots could easily happen to any playful child.

Setzer’s reasoning for posting the alarming pictures of her daughter’s tick encounter was to spread awareness to other parents of the potential danger to their kids.

“They're not as easy to see as the ticks you're likely looking for on yourself or children,” Setzer said.

After Setzer’s public service announcement post went viral with almost 500,000 shares, she commented again to say thank you for the positive response.

“Thank you for helping to spread awareness about seed ticks. Hopefully by sharing this, others will be spared getting caught up in a similar situation.”

McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at mpark@deseretdigital.com.

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