Lyme Disease in Babies: Symptoms and Treatment
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease, called for the Connecticut town where the illness was determined in 1975, is an infection that your baby can get if he’s bitten by a tick carrying particular bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi). However unless you live in an area where Lyme disease prevails, the possibilities of your baby getting Lyme disease are slim. In fact, in many areas of the nation, only 1 to 2 percent of the ticks are infected with the bacteria. And even if an infected tick does bite your baby, he will not contract the disease unless the tick remains embedded in his skin for a significant time (12 to 48 hours).
That doesn’t suggest you should not take precautions. The occurrence of Lyme disease has actually doubled from 1991 to 2002, now striking more than 17,000 North Americans every year. The largest varieties of cases are discovered among children between the ages of 5 and 9 and adults 50 to 59 years of ages.
Cases have actually been detected in practically every state in the United States, but the disease is most common in the Northeast, the Great Lakes area, and the Pacific Northwest. (In the East, Lyme is carried by black-legged, deer, or bear ticks, and in the West it’s brought by western black-legged ticks. All remain in the Ixodes tick household.).
Lyme disease isn’t really contagious from person to individual. It can develop into a major disease if left neglected, however there are actions you can take to avoid it, and it responds well to treatment once it’s identified.
Lyme disease is often related to greatly wooded or grassy areas where mice and deer live. It’s most common in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and the northern Midwest states.
What are the symptoms?
Physicians call Lyme disease the “fantastic copy cat” because it mimics other diseases, making it difficult to diagnose.
Early symptoms often consist of an obvious rash. It may be a solid red expanding blotch or a central red oval or round spot surrounded by clear skin then a ring of an expanding red rash, offering the look of a bull’s- eye. (On dark skin, the rash may merely appear like a contusion.) The rash may start at a portion of an inch and grow to 6 or even 12 inches in diameter. It isn’t painful or itchy, but it may be warm to the touch, and it might persist for three to 5 weeks. Usually the rash will appear from three days to one month after the bite.
Other early symptoms– which, if they take place, will likely appear within two weeks to three months after being bitten– include extra rashes (on locations besides the bite area), headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, tightness, level of sensitivity to light, facial paralysis, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, fever, and meningitis. (Of course, a few of these symptoms are challenging to spot in a baby.) These symptoms, consisting of the rash, usually disappear without treatment, however that doesn’t indicate the disease is treated.
If left unattended, other symptoms– like arthritis (specifically in the knees), irregular heart rhythm, and cognitive degeneration– may appear weeks, months, or years later.
When should I call a doctor?
Call your baby’s doctor instantly if your baby has symptoms of Lyme disease or a suspicious rash. You may likewise want to check in with the doctor if you find a tick that’s embedded in your baby’s skin and engorged, which means that it’s been in location for a while. If you discover a tick crawling on your baby’s body, there’s absolutely nothing to fret about, but if you find a tick connected to your baby’s skin, you need to remove it as soon as possible. (For directions, see our short article on tick bites.)
How is Lyme disease identified?
If your baby has the distinctive rash, the doctor will probably have the ability to detect it by that alone. If your baby has early symptoms of Lyme disease without a rash and the doctor thinks that Lyme disease is a possibility, she might purchase a blood test. The initial test, called ELISA (enzyme-linked immunoassay), screens for a raised blood level of antibodies produced by the body in action to the Lyme bacteria. If that test is favorable, she may do a “Western blot” blood test to confirm the results.
How is it treated?
Once diagnosed, Lyme disease is treated with oral antibiotics for 3 to four weeks or with intravenous antibiotics. The doctor may also have your child take an anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen, if she thinks he may have joint pain.
Exists a vaccine?
There was a vaccine, called LYMErix, although it was never ever approved for young kids. The maker pulled it from the marketplace after some controversy about its safety.
Are there other methods to avoid the disease?
Yes. By understanding how your baby may contract the disease, you can take steps to avoid it. The prime season for the disease is April through October, with peak months of May, June, and July, when the ticks are active and not yet mature (so they’re smaller sized and more difficult to see).
Attempt to keep your baby from wooded areas, fields, or seashores where ticks live. If you’re taking him treking or outdoor camping, stay on the paths with him instead of traipsing through densely wooded areas. Gown him in long trousers and long-sleeved t-shirts, and tuck completions of his trousers into his socks. Clothes made of slick product (like windbreakers) is harder for ticks to get onto than knits. Pick light-colored clothing, so ticks will be simpler to spot.
Tick repellents, which generally contain permethrin, are implied to be sprayed on clothing, not skin. Read the label thoroughly to make sure that any product you use is safe for babies. If it is, you can put it on his clothes (including his shoes) prior to you dress him. Products containing DEET are readily available for use on babies at least 2 months old, but inspect the label to make sure the one you choose is safe for your baby.
If you find an ideal product, use it just on little areas of exposed skin, avoiding your baby’s face and hands in addition to any cuts or scrapes. Wash your hands well after you apply it. When you return inside, clean the repellent off your baby’s skin. Even better, take him into the shower with you to wash it off– any gently connected ticks will wash off at the same time, too.
Ticks do not sting or itch when they bite, so your baby might get bitten and not even feel it. While treking with the family, check each other for ticks from time to time. At the end of the day, take a look at everybody’s skin carefully. In fact, whenever you bring your baby in from playing outdoors, inspect his body for ticks, carefully inspecting every nook and cranny– his underarms, the backs of his knees, in between his fingers and toes, in his belly button, on his neck and head, and behind his ears.
Animals can pass ticks along to the rest of the family, so if the family dog has been outdoors, check him for ticks, too– specifically around the head and neck. During the spring and summer season, you may also want to use an anti-tick soap on your dog.
Considering that tick bites often take place in family lawns, you might want to try to develop a tick-free zone around your house. Ticks don’t fly or jump, so trees aren’t an issue unless they have very low branches. However do keep the yard short, and clear out any brush. Stack fire wood away from the house, because woodpiles attract mice, which can bring ticks. (In truth, ticks contract the bacteria from mice.)