Lyme Disease in Children Overview: Quick Facts about this Tick-Caused Disease
Almost everyone knows that parasites, as the term already suggests, are appalling creatures that people should try their best to avoid. But parasites do not only live off people’s blood and nutrients: they can be found almost anywhere, getting their source of food from animals and plants. And to make matters even worse, many of them carry bacteria that can cause significant damages to the health of a human being.
One such type of parasite that lives off animals and carries disease-causing bacteria is the species that cause Lyme disease in human beings, called the Ixodes ticks (also known as deer ticks or black legged ticks). The bacteria that they carry is known as the “Borrelia burgdorferi.” When a person has been bitten by one of these parasites, the bacterium can be transmitted and may result in the patient developing Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Threats: Higher During Warm Weather?
Many parents believe that their kids are safer (against Lyme disease) inside the home during the warm weather months. However, this is not actually the case. Since the ticks that carry the Lyme disease-causing bacterium can also find their way onto household pets, they can bring the risks of the disease into your home if you have a pet that has been in contact with a tick-infested mouse or deer.
Fortunately, the risk of your child developing this disease, after he/she has been bitten by a tick, is very low; just 1 to 3 percent. However, it is still important for you, as a parent, to learn more about the factors that have a bearing on the risks associated with this disease. You should also learn about the steps on how to remove a tick from the skin if you find one on your child.
Places that Have the Highest Number of Cases of Lyme Disease
In the United States, Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease. There are about 20,000 to 30,000 cases being reported to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year. Many of these cases are of people who live in certain areas across the country, including the Northeast, the Pacific, and the upper Midwest regions of the country.
Other states in the U. S. have also reported Lyme disease incidents, but the states that have the highest number include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Virginia
Outdoor Activities and Pets
There are several other factors that can increase the risk of your child getting Lyme disease. Aside from your family living in any of the states mentioned above, the following can also be of significant bearing on the risk of your child being diagnosed with this disease:
• When he/she spends a lot of his/her time outdoors, especially in woody areas or places where tall grass, shrubs, or brushes are growing.
• Having pets that are allowed both indoors and outdoors.
• Joining outdoor activities including fishing, camping, landscaping, and hiking.
Removing a Tick from the Skin
The first thing that you may do when you find a tick on your child is to panic. This is something that you should avoid, as it may cause confusion and delays in the removal of the tick. What you should do instead is to immediately do the following steps:
1. Find a device (a pair of tweezers is good) that can be used to remove the parasite.
2. Using the tweezers, grasp the parasite’s head or mouth (the part that is nearest to the skin) firmly.
3. In a firm and steady motion, pull off the tick until the area of the skin it has attached itself to have been released.
4. Get some cotton and alcohol and swab the area of the bite with it.
5. Have your child take a thorough bath, including washing the hair, to ensure that no ticks remain on your child’s body.
In the event that a part of the parasite is left on your child’s skin, there is no need for you to worry. This is going to come out eventually. If you notice any kind of skin irritation around the bite site, or if your child develops any symptom associated with Lyme disease, do not hesitate to call your primary health care provider.
It is also a good idea for you to put the removed parasite in a container that you can seal completely. The reason for preserving the tick is because your doctor may want to see and examine it to determine if it is a species that can be a carrier of the bacterium that can cause Lyme disease.
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