What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child
Don’t panic. First Lyme disease is spread by the black-legged tick, not by the larger and more-common dog tick. The risk of developing Lyme disease after a black-legged tick bite is low, especially if the tick has been attached for a short time.
If you find a tick on your child, remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. Grasp the body of the tick and pull in an upward motion until the tick comes out. Do not squeeze or twist the ticks body. Take note of the ticks size and color, and how long you think it has been attached to your child.
If your child has been bitten by a black-legged tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours and you are in a Lyme disease endemic area, consult with your pediatrician. In some cases, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease from developing.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Most children who develop Lyme disease do not recall having been bitten by a tick. Symptoms can appear a few days to many months after the bite, and can include:
- a rash in the form of a bulls-eye
- facial palsy, or weakness of the facial muscles
- headache/meningitis, or swelling of tissues around the brain and spinal cord
Children with a bulls-eye rash may also have systemic symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and joint aches. The rash may not have a classic bull-eye appearance, especially on people with darkly pigmented skin, and can be mistaken for cellulitis, ringworm, or other skin conditions. Children who develop a disseminated infection often have not had a preceding skin rash.
The most common late stage symptom of Lyme disease is arthritis, particularly in the large joints and especially the knee. Typically, the joints will be more swollen and tender than painful, and anti-inflammatory medicine can help.
Lyme Disease: Resolving The Lyme Wars
- By , Contributor
Its finally getting warm here in New England, and most of us have plans to enjoy the beautiful weather. And thats why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report raising awareness about how to prevent the tickborne infections that typically occur during this time of the year. Lyme disease is probably the most well-known, and the one for which diagnosis and treatment are most controversial.
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What We Know And Don’t Know About Lyme Disease
- Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Falmouth Hospital, Falmouth, MA, United States
We know the cause of Lyme disease. We know that the bacteria can be found in the initial rash, and occasionally in the blood in the subsequent 23 months, but after then, its subsequent location is unknown. Whereas diagnosis and treatment of early Lyme disease is generally straightforward, the etiology of relapsing or persisting symptoms is yet to be defined, and presents clinical challenges. There are no current tests to determine if the infection is still present or absent, thus complicating diagnosis and treatment. Presented here are approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of persisting Lyme disease, based on available published information, and the experience of the author.
Antimicrobials That Kill Growing Phase Cysts
Intracellular and Extracellular
Note: I work with the following agents as anti-cyst agents based on the mechanism by which these antibiotics work and some scientific experiments. For the Rifamycins, there are no laboratory experiments showing these agents work against cysts. Clinically, I see great benefit in using the Rifamycins as my anti-cyst agents – so I list them here.
- Rifampin 300 mg 2 pills 1 time a day or 1 pill 2 times a day
- Rifabutin 150 mg 2 pills 1 time a day
- Tinidazole 500 mg 1 pill 2 or three times a day usually pulsed for four days on then three days off of each 7 days
- Metronidazole 500 mg 1 pill 2 or three times a day usually pulsed for four days on then three days off of each 7 days.
- Grapefruit seed extract 250 mg 1 pill 2 times a day. Note this is an herbal antibiotic that I find as effective as the prescription options in this list.
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Herbal And Prescription Antimicrobials By Function
Be aware the doses I provide below are for adults. These same prescriptions can be used with children but have lower doses. For pediatric dosing, talk with your family physician or pediatrician. Tetracyclines can be used in children under eight, but there is a risk of tooth staining. This staining seems not to be an issue if they are used for a month or less.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
In areas where the ticks that carry Lyme disease are found, when a patient comes to a doctor with probable erythema migrans , blood tests are performed to diagnose the condition, including:
- Step 1: Enzyme immunoassay or immunofluorescence assay – Total Lyme titer or IgG and IgM titers
- Step 2: Western blot testing only performed if step 1 test results are positive
Other tests that may be indicated include:
- Joint aspiration to see if there is another cause for fluid buildup on the joints
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis – in patients with meningitis
- Electrocardiogram – to identify Lyme carditis or arrythmias
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What Kind Of Doctor Is Treating Your Lyme Disease
Healthcare providers who treat Lyme disease include: Your primary care doctor is the place to start. Doctors who provide primary care services include family medicine doctors, internists, geriatricians, and pediatricians. Their training helps them recognize the signs and symptoms of early and later-stage Lyme disease.
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Not all cases of Lyme disease can be prevented. But you can help protect your family from tick bites. If you go into an area where ticks live, be sure to:
- Stay in the middle of the trail, instead of going through high grass or the woods.
- Wear closed shoes or boots, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Tuck pant legs into shoes or boots to prevent ticks from crawling up legs.
- Use an insect repellent.
- Consider treating clothing and gear with permethrin to repel ticks. When used properly, permethrin is safe for all ages. But don’t use it on clothing or other material a child may suck on or chew.
- Wear light-colored clothing to help you see ticks more easily.
- Shower and wash hair after being outside to remove ticks before they attach.
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When To See A Doctor
A person should see a doctor if they have recently received a tick bite. It is not possible to know whether a tick is carrying Lyme disease, and the symptoms may take weeks to appear.
The earlier a person receives a diagnosis and treatment, the higher the likelihood of a quick and complete recovery.
It is not always possible for a person to tell if a tick has bitten them. As such, people should also see a doctor if they experience any Lyme disease symptoms. A doctor will ask about the persons symptoms and duration and whether the person has spent time in tick-infested areas.
How To Remove A Tick
A tick must remain attached to the skin for at least 36 hours to spread Lyme disease. The best way of preventing Lyme disease is to remove a tick as soon as possible.
The blacklegged tick that spreads disease-causing bacteria resembles a tiny spider. Young ticks are around the size of a poppy seed, while adult ticks are around the size of a sesame seed. Ticks of all ages are reddish-brown.
Below are some steps for tick removal.
- Step 1: Use fine-tipped tweezers to gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Avoid squeezing the tick.
- Step 2: Using the tweezers, pull the tick carefully and steadily away from the skin. Avoid yanking or twisting the tick, as this could cause its mouthparts to remain in the skin.
- Step 3: After removing the tick, dispose of it by putting it in some alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.
- Step 4: Apply antiseptic to the tick bite.
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How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. In most cases, people bitten by a tick are given antibiotics only if they are sick or have a rash. If you are bitten by a tick but dont get sick or get a rash, you dont need antibiotics.
Early-stage Lyme disease responds very well to treatment. In most cases, taking an antibiotic for 2 to 4 weeks kills the bacteria and clears up the infection. Your doctor will tell you how long to take the antibiotic. Its important to take all the medicine your doctor prescribes. This will prevent the spread of Lyme disease to your joints, nervous system, or heart. If you have problems with the medicine, do not quit taking it. Call your doctor and talk to him or her about your side effects.
Late-stage Lyme disease is also treated with antibiotics. It may be necessary to give the antibiotics intravenously at this stage. Medicine that reduces swelling and pain can ease arthritis associated with late-stage Lyme disease. If necessary, excess fluid can be drained from any affected joints.
Lyme Disease Frequently Asked Questions
If you have not done so already, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.
The chances that you might get Lyme disease from a single tick bite depend on the type of tick, where you acquired it, and how long it was attached to you. Many types of ticks bite people in the U.S., but only blacklegged ticks transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Furthermore, only blacklegged ticks in the highly endemic areas of the northeastern and north central U.S. are commonly infected. Finally, blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease. This is why its so important to remove them promptly and to check your body daily for ticks if you live in an endemic area.
If you develop illness within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your health care provider right away. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, fever, body aches, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Ticks can also transmit other diseases, so its important to be alert for any illness that follows a tick bite.
Moody KD, Barthold SW, 1991. Relative infectivity of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lewis rats by various routes of inoculation.external iconAm J Trop Med Hyg 44: 135-9.
There are no reports of Lyme disease being spread to infants through breast milk. If you are diagnosed with Lyme disease and are also breastfeeding, make sure that your doctor knows this so that he or she can prescribe an antibiotic thats safe for use when breastfeeding.
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Yes Treating Lyme Without Antibiotics Is Possible
Yes, treating Lyme without antibiotics is possible. Lets take a closer look at how you can do this.
Theres a lot of conflicting information out there about lyme disease.
Lyme isnt a chronic condition vs. Lyme can certainly be chronic.
Just take antibiotics for a few weeks and youll be cured vs. Take antibiotics for years, but you still wont be cured it will just be in remission.
Antibiotics are the only thing that works for Lyme vs. Antibiotics dont work well for treating Lyme.
Lyme can be cured vs. Lyme cant be cured.
Its enough to make your head spin. And to make things worse, if youre the unlucky one with the Lyme diagnosis, youre probably not thinking all that clearly due to the intense brain fog.
Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
If stage 1 Lyme disease remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can progress to stage 2, or early disseminated, Lyme disease. This stage occurs 312 weeks after the initial tick bite.
The term disseminated indicates that the bacteria have spread throughout the body. At this stage, the infection may affect the following tissues:
- the skin
- nervous system
A person who has progressed to stage 2 Lyme disease may develop new symptoms alongside those from stage 1. These new symptoms may include:
- new rashes across the body
- conjunctivitis or vision problems
- poor memory and concentration
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How Do I Remove A Tick From My Dog
Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The deer tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but is a little more obvious in the adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dogs skin and firmly pull it straight out. There are also tools available called Tick Twister® or Tick Key® which can be useful. However, take care to use them cautiously as twisting or jerking the tick may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. See your veterinarian if you are unsure or unable to remove the tick from your dog.
Make sure you protect your fingers from exposure by using a tissue or a disposable glove.You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease does not appear to be transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the ticks contents, including blood, on your skin.
Note: The bacterium that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.
Treatment Within 30 Days Of Initial Tick Bite
Studies show that 80 to 90% of people, who take a two to three week course of antibiotics within 30 days after a known acute tick bite, do not develop chronic Lyme disease. Based on my experience, these people are cured of Lyme disease – they will not have further problems with Lyme disease, unless they get a new tick bite.
For the best chance of cure in acute Lyme, I found doxycycline to works best in my Seattle practice. But if a person cannot take doxycycline, cefuroxime or amoxicillin is an option. These are the three antibiotics recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In my experience, I find these work better in an acute setting than herbal antibiotics at getting a cure.
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Q: Whats The Best Test For Diagnosing Lyme Disease
First and foremost, Lyme disease, as with any disease, should be diagnosed based on a clinical history and physical exam, not by test results alone.
Its important to note that the complex, conservative two-tiered testing criteria for CDC positive cases was developed for disease-tracking only. It shouldnt be used by physicians as the sole criteria for diagnosis or denying treatment to patients.
Whats more, not all Lyme tests are created equal. The major labs typically look for only one strain of Lyme bacteria, the B31 strain of Borrelia burgdorferi. I prefer using specialized labs that test for multiple Lyme strains. Three of the labs I use are MDL, Galaxy, and IGeneX.
One tick can inject multiple species of disease-causing microbes in a single blood meal, so, based on symptoms, I sometimes test for other tick-borne infections.
If a patient has night sweats, shortness of breath, stabbing chest pains, or autonomic symptoms , Ill test for Babesia, a malaria-like red blood cell infection.
For a pinprick rash on the extremities and/or severe illness, Ill test for spotted fever. Bartonellosis can present in many ways, including neuropathy, or neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as panic attacks, rages, psychosis, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Azlocillin Comes Out On Top
The drug, which is not on the market, was tested in mouse models of Lyme disease at seven-day, 14-day and 21-day intervals and found to eliminate the infection. For the first time, azlocillin was also shown to be effective in killing drug-tolerant forms of B. burgdorferi in lab dishes, indicating that it may work as a therapy for lingering symptoms of Lyme disease.
Pothineni and Rajadas have patented the compound for the treatment of Lyme disease and are working with a company to develop an oral form of the drug. Researchers plan to conduct a clinical trial.
Rajadas is also a professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at the University of California-San Francisco.
Other Stanford co-authors are Hari-Hara S. K. Potula, PhD, senior research scientist postdoctoral scholars Aditya Ambati, PhD, and Venkata Mallajosyula, PhD senior research scientist Mohammed Inayathullah, PhD and intern Mohamed Sohail Ahmed.
A researcher at Loyola College in India also contributed to the work.
The study was funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and Laurel STEM Fund.
- Tracie White
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What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.
2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.
You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.
Why Are Antibiotics The First Line Of Treatment For Lyme Disease
The use of antibiotics is critical for treating Lyme disease. Without antibiotic treatment, the Lyme disease causing bacteria can evade the host immune system, disseminate through the blood stream, and persist in the body. Antibiotics go into the bacteria preferentially and either stop the multiplication of the bacteria or disrupt the cell wall of the bacteria and kill the bacteria . By stopping the growth or killing the bacteria the human host immune response is given a leg up to eradicate the residual infection. Without antibiotics, the infection in Lyme disease can evade the host immune system and more readily persist.
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