Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted primarily by deer ticks. In the United States, Lyme disease typically occurs in the Northeast, Northwest, and parts of the upper Midwest. So where you live (or travel) and what type of tick you find will help determine if your child is at risk of developing Lyme disease.
Not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. And it is not recommended to have the tick tested for Lyme because for most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted. Many times most parents will not know how long the tick was attached, so it is important to watch for signs that your child might be developing the illness.
Many kids who have Lyme disease develop a red rash at the site of the tick bite, which sometimes has a characteristic “bull’s-eye” appearance. In the week or two after the tick bite, look for an expanding ring of solid redness or a red bump surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. The rash may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches.
If your child has a bull’s-eye rash or other symptoms that can occur in Lyme disease, call your doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease can prevent serious illness and long-term complications. When diagnosed quickly and given a course of antibiotics, kids with Lyme disease almost always have a good outcome. If a child has no symptoms and if parents are concerned, the earliest time where antibodies can be detected in the blood (IF a tick transmitted the bacteria) is approximately 4-6 weeks after a known tick bite.
Parents can help prevent kids from being exposed to ticks by making sure they wear protective clothing and apply insect repellant containing DEET, especially when playing in grassy or wooded areas where ticks live. Check kids for ticks every day.
If you have any question or concerns, contact the office and speak to one of our medical staff.