My daughter Emma had sudden onset behavior problems at school and home. She was so tired, she didn’t want to get out of bed, and she had temper tantrums nearly every day. I took her to our doctor when we noticed that she had a persistent low-grade fever. I was shocked to learn that she had Lyme disease – I don’t remember any tick bites, or even a rash!
I packed bug spray in Emma’s bag for summer camp, but I didn’t realize: there’s ticks in the backyard.
After a round of antibiotics, I had my Emma back. Now, I check her for ticks after every backyard adventure, and I encourage other moms in my neighborhood to do the same.
When checking for ticks, be sure to look in the armpit, around the ears, in the belly button, behind the knees, in the hair, and near the waist. If you find a tick, use tweezers and pull straight up to remove it. If it was attached for less than a day, there’s little to no risk of Lyme disease. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Lyme disease is a growing problem in the state of Michigan. State Lyme incidence has grown significantly since 2000, with Menominee County increasing the most (CDC, n.d.). Lyme disease is a vector-borne illness transmitted via the bite of the Black Legged Tick (CDC, n.d.). Climate change related increases in relative humidity are associated with tick population growth (Dumin & Severnini, 2018). The preferred habitat of the tick is near long grass or shrubs, or alongside forest borders, and Menominee County has approximately 78% forest cover (CDC, n.d., Dumin & Severnini, 2018, GFW, n.d.). Our team suspects that the forest coverage in the county may be linked to a higher Lyme Disease risk. As such, our campaign targets suburban moms in Menominee County, the majority of whom may have preferred tick habitats in their own back yards.
Many strategies exist to help reduce the risk of tick bites, and subsequent tick-borne illness. These strategies include but are not limited to: wearing effective bug repellent, treating clothes with insecticide, wearing long pants and tucking them into socks, and performing regular tick checks after every outdoor excursion (CDC, n.d.). The likelihood of backyard ticks may be significantly higher than Menominee County residents realize. Children are at a high risk of tick-bites, especially after playing outdoors (Children’s Lyme Disease Network, n.d.). While residents may find the uptake of several tick-bite reducing strategies for their children, only performing regular tick-checks for their children is relatively easy and may significantly reduce Lyme incidence in the county.
To that end, our campaign suggests: “SuperMoms always check their child for ticks after outdoor adventures!” The use of the term “SuperMoms” is meant to play to mothers’ identity and social image of being a “good mom.” In addition, our campaign describes negative impacts of Lyme Disease on children, to help mothers fully understand the risk. Importantly, our campaign is free for our audience, increasing the chances of efficacity among all socioeconomic statuses. Our digital flyer will be distributed mainly on Facebook, where many small communities gather digitally to exchange information and advice (Nader & Evans-Cowley, 2015). We hope to reach mothers who get their news on social media. Our 1-minute PSA will play over the radio, in hopes of reaching moms and parents with limited access to internet.
Anticipated short-term outcomes include: increased awareness of tick presence in backyards, increased awareness of the negative impacts of Lyme Disease on children, and increased understanding of the importance, ease, and efficacy of regular tick-checks to reduce risk. We hope to perform Facebook polls before and after our campaign, as well as phone-polling (if possible), to measure these outcomes. The medium-term outcomes may be measured via polling as well. We expect that decreases in the average number of tick bites may be a medium-term outcome – this will be hard to measure, however, due to the undetectable nature of many tick bites.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Lyme disease surveillance and available data. Accessed 12/3/2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/survfaq.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Lyme Disease. Accessed 12/3/2022, from https://www.cdc.com/lyme/
Children’s Lyme Disease Network. (n.d.). Children and Lyme Disease Infographic. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://www.childrenslymenetwork.org/children-lyme/children-lyme-disease-infographic/
Dumin, I., Severnini, E. (2018). “Ticking bomb”: The impact of climate change on the incidence of Lyme disease. Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5719081
Menominee, Michigan, United States Deforestation Rates & Statistics | GFW. (n.d.). globalforestwatch.org. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://www.globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/country/USA/23/59/?category=land-use
Nader, A., Evans-Cowley, J. (2015). Planning and Social Media: Facebook for Planning at the Neighbourhood Scale. Planning Practice & Research, 30:3,270-285. DOI: https://doi-org/10.1080/02697459.2015.1052943