Lyme disease -- it's horrible and hard to detect.
I came across this in my morning procrastination from real work. It caught my eye because this (almost) hit home for us this year.
Earlier this year, we noticed what looked like a tick embedded in my oldest boy's buttock as we got him ready for his bath. My wife, who has a sister who once got Lyme disease with horrible effects, freaked out and told him to stay still while she went and got a flashlight and/or flamethrower or something equally effective for the removal of ticks. "Don't scratch it!" she yelled over her shoulder as she ran down the hall.
He's five, so naturally the first thing he did was scratch it off, severing the tick's head from its body. Probably. We were never sure if it was a tick, but there was a red dot on his butt for a few days, and not long after, his appetite went to nothing and he always complained of having an upset tummy -- possible signs of Lyme disease (or so I'm told.)
His blood work came back negative for Lyme's, but we knew that wasn't necessarily it. We got him on some light antibiotics just in case. As it happened, it wasn't Lyme, it was mono. What a relief! Still, it could have been different, and we might have been falsely lulled into a sense of relief or complacency, missing the best time to combat Lyme disease.
Anyway, this is a public service announcement. All those beautiful fall colors are about to drop into our yards, transmogrified into piles and piles of brown. If you have kids, it will take Class-10 Omega force fields to keep them out of the piles of leaves you so carefully create in your yards. So, at the very least, check your kids for ticks often.
Here's a non-disgusting link to instructions about how to remove ticks. There are also some nifty ways of creating your own natural insect (including tick) repellents here.