Lyme disease is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi — a type of bacteria called a spirochete that lives in deer ticks and can be spread to humans (and animals) from the bite of an infected tick.
The classic sign of Lyme disease is a circular, reddish, bull's eye rash. The bull's eye may appear one to two weeks after transmission. Symptoms of the disease include swollen lymph glands, muscle pain, fatigue, fever and chills. These symptoms can recur and worsen over several weeks. Late-stage symptoms of the disease can include arthritis, joint swelling, loss of muscle tone, stiff neck, mental confusion, cardiac issues and other serious complications.
A blood test can confirm if you have contracted Lyme disease. When caught early, Lyme disease can be treated succesfully with antibiotics. Early treatment is essential because late-stage complications can lead to permanent cardiac, joint and neurological issues.
Dr. Rashel J. Tahzib of Holtorf Medical Group offers these tips on Lyme disease prevention:
Avoid tick infested areas especially in summer months and May, June and July. If your child is in an area where there are ticks it's best that he or she walks in the center of tracks to avoid overgrown grass and brush. Children should avoid sitting or playing on the ground in outdoor areas.
Make sure your child is wearing protective light-colored clothing. Light-colored clothing increases the visibility of ticks. Wear long sleeve shirts, pants, and hat, as well as closed shoes and socks. Hair should be pulled back and tucked in a cap. Tuck pant legs into socks and boots and tuck shirt into pants to avoid ticks from crawling up.
If your child must be outdoors in a tick-infested area apply insect repellent to pants, socks, and shoes containing 10-30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). You may apply on exposed skin areas as well but make sure the areas are washed off when indoors to minimize toxic effect.
Check for ticks regularly both indoors and outdoors in infested areas. After your child has been outdoors in a tick-infested area, remove, wash, and dry clothing and inspect the clothing and your child's body thoroughly and carefully and remove any attached ticks.
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