Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Kids

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What Should I Do If I Find A Tick On My Child

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

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.

A Lyme Vaccine Was Pulled From The Market 20 Years Ago

There’s already been one US Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine for Lyme disease. GSK then called SmithKline Beecham made a Lyme vaccine that was approved by the FDA in 1998. Called Lymerix, it was about 75 percent effective at preventing Lyme after three shots.

But at the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rarely recommended the vaccine because the disease was seen as easily treatable in early stages.

In addition, patients were reluctant to take the vaccine because they found the dosage schedule inconvenient, and it was not approved for children because it had not been tested in that population.

It was removed from the market in 2002 after patients said it caused severe side effects like arthritis and filed a class-action lawsuit.

The CDC and FDA didn’t find a pattern with the vaccine causing these reactions, but this didn’t save Lymerix. Sales fell so dramatically that GSK withdrew the drug from the market.

Valneva and Pfizer are hoping that the new Lyme vaccine gets a better public reception. If the phase 3 study results are positive, the companies are aiming to get FDA approval for the vaccine in 2025.

What Can I Expect Long Term If My Child Has Lyme Disease

If Lyme disease is caught and treated early, most children will make a full recovery. Some children with Lyme disease go on to experience what’s called a post-infectious syndrome with symptoms that may include feeling fatigue, joint aches and pains, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and problems concentrating. Since the infection itself is gone by this time, doctors generally don’t prescribe antibiotics. Each child is different, but it’s not uncommon for symptoms of post-infectious syndrome to linger for months, or even years, and they can be made worse by stress or other illness. But most children do make a full recovery.

Blacklegged, or deer, ticks are very small, so it helps to know what to look for when doing a tick check. Adults are about the size of sesame seeds and in the nymph or larva stage, they can be as tiny as a poppy seeds.

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How Do You Know If You Have Lyme Disease

This turns out to be a slightly trickier question than you might think. Even if youre diligently inspecting your skin and clothes, you may not always know if youve been bitten by a tick. Ticks can be the size of the period at the end of this sentence, so if even if you dont see the tick or the tick bite, you should seek advice from a medical professional familiar with Lyme disease if your child has symptoms of Lyme disease, explains Giampa.

There are tests for Lyme disease though, Szantyr explains. It takes two-to-eight weeks to develop a measurable antibody response. If youre presenting with Lyme symptoms, your best bet is to immediately seek out care.

Regression And Other Symptoms In Children

Nurse warns against Lyme disease symptom

Children are the largest population of Lyme patients.

The CDC study of reported Lyme cases from 19922006 found that the incidence of new cases was highest among 5- to 14-year-olds . About one quarter of reported Lyme cases in the United States involve children under 14 years old .

Children can have all the signs and symptoms of Lyme that adults have, but they may have trouble telling you exactly what they feel or where it hurts.

You may notice a decline in school performance, or your childs mood swings may become problematic.

Your childs social and speech skills or motor coordination may regress. Or your child may lose their appetite.

Children are more likely than adults to have arthritis as an initial symptom 01267-2/fulltext#sec0040″ rel=”nofollow”> 25).

In a 2012 Nova Scotian study of children with Lyme, 65 percent developed Lyme arthritis . The knee was the most commonly affected joint.


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Achy Stiff Or Swollen Joints

Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints .

Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times its your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis . Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.

The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved .

People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:

  • One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
  • Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis .
  • Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
  • Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .


Joint pain that comes and goes, or moves from joint to joint, could be a sign of Lyme.

Lyme Disease Symptoms In Children

Most kids who are prone to Lyme if treated immediately with antibiotics provide better prognosis. But if it is unattended or not treated for a long time it becomes a difficult proposition. The bacteria could attack your nervous system, eyes and muscles. The reaction ability of each individual to Lyme is different. Some may experience a major chunk of symptoms, whereas in case of others it could be restricted to a few.

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Dr Burrascano On Lyme Disease In Kids

Another leading Lyme disease physician, Dr. Burrascano, discusses combination therapy, the use of more than one antibiotic. By using more than one medication it increases the chance of killing the three known forms of Borrelia. Dr. Burrascano does note there are gut issues when ingesting antibiotics long term and that measures should be taken to protect the microbiome.

How Long Does Is Take To Recover From Lyme Disease

Mom urges daily tick inspections after Lyme ‘nightmare’

Most people with Lyme disease get better with antibiotics, although the symptoms may last for some time, even once treatment has finished. How long your childs symptoms last is variable. As with other illnesses, some children bounce back quickly, but others need much longer to get better, Julia explains. Some children will be able to go to school while they recover, but some cant. Lyme disease is a serious infection and the antibiotic doses are high, so plenty of rest is needed. If, however, your childs symptoms havent improved by the time they finish their antibiotics, or have worsened, they may be given a second course of a different antibiotic. Beyond this point, your child might be referred to a specialist for more blood tests and advice. Bear in mind, though, that symptoms may take a while to resolve.

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Treatment Of Lyme Disease In Children

If you suspect your child has Lyme, take them to a Lyme literate doctor to get them checked immediately. When left untreated, lifelong severe conditions can develop and even begin to deteriorate the central nervous system.

A Lyme literate doctor can sometimes diagnose by examining the patient, especially if they ask the right questions or if your child has the tell-tale rash.

Besides, your child will be required to perform blood work. The sensitivity of the tests varies greatly depending upon how long an individual has been infected and on the type of clinical manifestations. There is an overwhelming number of false-negative reports for Lyme disease. Many of Dr. Sponaugles patients said they initially tested negative for Lyme disease as well, when in fact, they later tested positive. This happens more often than not therefore, it is essential to watch your childs health issues and have them retested.

Read one of our previous blog posts written by Dr. Sponaugle, who applauded Columbia University et al., for making a more diligent effort to provide better quality testing for tick-borne diseases.

What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Children

You may or may not notice a tick bite on your child before they start showing symptoms of Lyme disease. Early symptoms of Lyme disease in children include:

  • A “bullseye” rash that looks circular and feels warm rash)
  • A swollen joint, such as the knee or hip, that may or may not be painful

The classic bullseye rash is the most common symptom of Lyme disease and occurs in approximately 70-80% of cases. Some children infected with Lyme disease may not form the characteristic bullseye rash, or if the tick bite is in the hairline, the rash may not be visible.

It’s important to know that some children will develop redness or swelling around a tick bite, but general redness is not necessarily the characteristic bullseye rash. Typically, this irritation will go away in 1-2 days.

When left untreated for weeks, Lyme disease can cause more serious complications such as meningitis, Bell’s palsy or heart block, a condition where part of the heart cannot pump adequately. If your child has developed these complications, they may show symptoms such as:

  • Facial weakness or asymmetry
  • Swollen lymph nodes

These symptoms may appear within a few weeks of a tick bite or travel to areas where Lyme disease is endemic. They should go away with proper diagnosis and treatment.

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Clinical Manifestations Of Tick

During spring and summer, the habitats of children and ticks overlap. It is therefore not surprising that the full spectrum of tick-borne diseases occurs in children and that some tick-borne agents infect children disproportionately. For example, two-thirds of all cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever occur in children less than 15 years of age, and the highest attack rate is in 5- to 9-year-olds . The fact that an outbreak of arthritis in children led to the first clinical description of Lyme disease is a fitting illustration of the intersection between children and tick-borne diseases .

The pediatrician is challenged by the fact that symptoms of many tick-borne infections mimic those seen in common childhood illnesses. A history of tick exposure can be helpful, but its absence does not exclude tick-borne disease . Diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion, knowledge of common clinical manifestations, and familiarity with seasonal and geographic features.

Ongoing Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease In Toddlers

A few people who are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease continue to have symptoms, like tiredness, aches and loss of energy, that can last for years.

These symptoms are often compared to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

It’s not clear why this happens to some people and not others. This means there’s also no agreed treatment.

Speak to a doctor if your symptoms come back, or do not improve, after treatment with antibiotics.

The doctor may be able to offer you further support if needed, such as:

  • referral for a care needs assessment
  • telling your employer, school or higher education institution that you require a gradual return to activities
  • communicating with children and families’ social care

Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024

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How Common Is Lyme Disease

Its estimated that 476,000 people contract Lyme disease in the United States every year, but only a fraction are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you are a parent or caregiver, your childs risk is greater than yours. Thats because children are closer to the ground, more likely to spend time outdoors, more likely to play in leaves and roll in grass, and often closer to pets that carry ticks.

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed

It can be hard for doctors to diagnose Lyme disease because:

  • The tick bites and rash might not be noticed.
  • Many early symptoms seem like the flu or other illnesses.
  • Blood tests can only help diagnose Lyme disease later in the illness, several weeks after it started.

Doctors can diagnose early Lyme disease if they see a tick bite or the telltale rash, especially if the person lives in an area where Lyme disease is common.

To diagnose late Lyme disease, doctors:

  • Ask about symptoms.
  • Do blood tests that look for signs of Lyme disease.

Depending on the symptoms, doctors might order other tests, such as a spinal tap, which looks at the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider

If you feel sick after having spent time in areas where ticks might live, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

If you received a Lyme disease diagnosis and you dont feel well after taking all of your antibiotics, contact your provider. This is especially true if you have symptoms like a stiff neck or mental confusion.

References Adolescents And Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Signs and Symptoms (2 of 5) | Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • B. J. Bloom, P. M. Wyckoff, H. C. Meissner, and A. C. Steere, Neurocognitive abnormalities in children after classic manifestations of Lyme disease, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 189196, 1998.
  • M. Vázquez, S. S. Sparrow, and E. D. Shapiro, Long-term neuropsychologic and health outcomes of children with facial nerve palsy attributable to Lyme disease, Pediatrics, vol. 112, no. 2, pp. e93e97, 2003.
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    What Causes Lyme Disease

    • Blacklegged ticks
    • According to the CDC, 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.

    Can Lyme Disease Completely Be Cured

    Taking oral antibiotics typically cures Lyme disease after two to four weeks. You may need to get antibiotics through the vein for four more weeks. However, theres no reason to think that Lyme disease stays in you forever after treatment.

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    If youre going to spend time in an area that might have ticks, take measures to avoid being bitten. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to make it harder for ticks to bite. If you feel sick after being in an area that probably has ticks, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If your provider prescribes antibiotics, make sure you take all of them as instructed.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/16/2022.


    Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

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    Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Children

    Could your child be suffering from a life-altering disease?

    It looks like any other disease contracted during childhood, but causes significant problems when left untreated. This silent culprit is known as Lyme disease, and its easy to pick up in almost any setting outside.

    What are the best ways to avoid it to protect yourself and your family? Is there any way to detect Lyme disease in children?

    Read on and learn everything about how to take care of your kids and keep them healthy. That way, if they do run into the disease, youll know what it is and how to treat it right away.

    What To Do If You Have A Blacklegged Tick Bite

    Early Signs Of Lyme Disease In Child

    Remove the tick by pulling it directly out with fine-tipped tweezers. Lift upward with slow and even pressure. Dont twist when removing it. Dont crush it or put soap or other substances on it. Dont apply heat to it.

    Place the tick in a resealable container. See if you can identify what kind of a tick it is.

    Immediately after removing the tick, wash your skin well with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol.

    Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted only by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.

    Save the tick to show your doctor. The doctor will want to determine if its a blacklegged tick and if theres evidence of feeding. Ticks enlarge as they feed. Your risk of getting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick fed on your blood.


    Pull the tick out with tweezers and save it in a resealable container for identification.

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    What Are Possible Complications Of Lyme Disease In A Child

    Some children may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . This means that some symptoms last longer than 6 months. Symptoms can include:

    • Ongoing muscle and nerve pain
    • Problems with memory

    PLDS does not respond to antibiotics. That’s because there isn’t an active infection anymore. Treatment is aimed at helping to control the symptoms.

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