It was a group of children in Old Lyme, Connecticut, who prompted the classification of Lyme disease back in 1977. Lyme disease in children was initially identified as juvenile arthritis but when officers at a nearby naval base began suffering similar symptoms to the children, the lead researcher, Allen Steere, changed his diagnosis and Lyme disease was officially named. Lyme disease in children can manifest as an inflammatory joint condition that looks like juvenile idiophatic arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, as well as an initial flu-like illness, the Lyme disease rash, and even Lyme meningitis. Spotting symptoms of Lyme disease in young children may be difficult as they are sometimes unable to communicate how they are feeling. It is important therefore to remain vigilant, to protect kids using appropriate clothing and tick-repellents, and to conduct tick checks after outside play. Lyme disease prevention is always better than cure.
What Causes Lyme Disease in Children?
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and these are transmitted via tick bite, usually after the tick has been in place for a day or more. Careful removal of the tick from the skin during that time will often prevent the bacteria from getting into the body. Keeping a watch for symptoms of Lyme disease in children, even after a tick has been swiftly removed, is still vital in order to catch the infection early. Ticks can latch onto clothing when walking through heavily wooded or grassy areas, particularly where there are deer or mice living. Birds, and a variety of mammals can also carry Lyme disease bacteria and the ticks that transmit the bacteria, which is why the infection is called a zoonosis. In North America the condition is most commonly found in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and in the northern midwest states although it is increasingly identified in patients living in the southern states as Lyme disease vigilance and diagnosis improves.
Reducing Lyme Disease Risks for Children
There is no sure-fire way to prevent Lyme disease in children but there are ways of minimizing the risks to all family members, such as using tick-repellents, remaining cautious of ticks when outdoors, and by employing other Lyme prevention techniques. Early detection of tick bites can save considerable time in getting a child appropriately treated and reduce the likelihood of any lasting damage occurring. Children may not be able to take all available Lyme disease antibiotics and careful discussion with the family physician is necessary to help manage any Lyme disease treatment side-effects that may arise, such as nausea or diarrhoea. In some cases the spread of Lyme disease bacteria may go undetected until neurological manifestations of Lyme disease arise. Lyme meningitis in children may be difficult to differentiate from bacterial meningitis or other illnesses and this can delay treatment, causing significant damage to be done in the meantime. Detecting Lyme disease in children may be difficult if they cannot communicate symptoms and so parents/caregivers need to be vigilant.
Read on – Preventing Lyme Disease in Children