Researchers have determined this week that the number of individuals infected with Lyme disease
each year has been grossly under estimated. About 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually, which is 10 times higher than the estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lyme disease
is transmitted through a deer tick bite. Symptoms include a bull’s eye-like rash that appears within a few weeks of the bite, as well as fatigue and muscle pain. According to Children’s National Health System's Infectious Disease specialist David Hyun, MD
, meningitis and arthritis are more severe symptoms of Lyme disease that may occur several weeks after a bite from an infected tick.
“If you notice a rash on your child, see your pediatrician,” said Dr. Hyun.
According to the CDC, 96 percent of the cases of Lyme disease happen in 13 states
, spanning the Midwest and the Northeast.
There are several ways families can protect themselves from Lyme disease:
- Check your family often for ticks, including:
- All parts of the body that bend: behind the knees, between fingers and toes, underarms, and groin
- Other areas where ticks are commonly found: belly button, in and behind the ears, neck, hairline, and top of the head
- Areas of pressure points, including:
- Where underwear elastic waistbands touch the skin
- Where bands from pants or skirts touch the skin
- Anywhere else where clothing presses on the skin
- Visually check all other areas of the body and hair, and run fingers gently over skin
- Run a fine-toothed comb through your child's hair to check for ticks daily
- Walk on cleared paths and pavement through wooded areas and fields when possible
- Shower after all outdoor activities are over for the day
- Use insect repellents safely:
- Products that contain DEET are tick repellents, but do not always kill the tick and are not 100 percent effective se a children's insect repellent (10 to 30 percent DEET) and check with your child's doctor if your child is younger than 2 years of age before using.
- Do not apply to the area around your child's nose, mouth, and eyes, and do not apply over any cuts or open sores.
- Treat clothing with a product that contains permethrin, which is known to kill ticks on contact.
- Do not use permethrin on the skin.
- Check pets for ticks and treat as needed