- What is Lyme disease? In the early 1970s doctors noticed an unusual outbreak of cases that resembled arthritis near Lyme, Connecticut. In 1975 it was officially recognized as Lyme disease. Between 1995 and 2009 the number of reported cases has more than doubled. The Lyme disease bacterium is spread through the bite of infected ticks. In general ticks need to be attached for 36-48 hours to spread the bacterium. Nymph ticks are tiny and can be difficult to see and can lodge in hard-to-notice areas, including the scalp, groin and armpit.
- Where is Lyme disease most common? Most Lyme disease infections occur in the Northeast (Virginia to Maine), North-Central states around Minnesota and Wisconsin and northern California.
- What are the symptoms? In the first month after a tick bite a person may see a red expanding rash called erythema migrans that looks like a “bulls eye.” They may experience fatigue, chills, fever, muscle and joint aches, neck stiffness, headaches and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated, patients may experience arthritis and severe joint pain.
- What if you suspect your child has Lyme disease? Contact your doctor. A blood test can confirm if your child has the disease. (Although a positive reading may not appear until 2-3 weeks after infection.) Your child will most likely receive 2-4 weeks of antibiotics.
- How can you prevent tick bites? Ticks are most active April-September. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass. Walk in the center of trails. Use products that contain 20% or more DEET. Parents should do a thorough check if their child has been the woods or grassy areas. Look in and around the ears, the belly button, behind the knees and especially the hair. Have your child bathe or shower after coming back indoors.
Adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheets.
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Category: Health and Safety