Posted by Claudia Grazioso on August 24, 2011
Summer vacation can seem so idyllic. Both my family and my husband’s family have houses with a lot of land around them — empty fields and woods — and our quasi-city children, who are so used to arranged “outdoor time,” can finally just run for hours. And they do. They run through tall grass and billowing bushes and sprawling fields and overgrown backyards. In short, they run right through the heart of tick country. I’m not a parent who usually worries too much about things like that. I almost always forget to put on their insect repellent until after they’ve been feasted on. But the other day, I saw what I thought might be a dead tick. And then I remembered why it’s important to be aware of Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria (Borrelia burgdoferi) that is transmitted to humans by tick bites. Ticks usually pick it up from deer or mice, who are also big fans of tall grass and forests and billowing bushes. It is easy to treat, but can be hard to detect as most of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are similar to flu symptoms, and they can come and go. If you find a tick on your child, chances are he or she won’t come down with Lyme Disease. In most cases, a tick has to be on the body for 48 hours before it can spread the disease to the bloodstream. But keep an eye out for symptoms like fever, chills, body aches, headaches, itching all over the body and stiff neck. Also, search for the telltale Lyme Disease “bull’s eye” bite. Frequently a tick bite is a red circle with a clear spot in the center.
Caught early, Lyme Disease is pretty easy to treat with antibiotics. Left untreated, symptoms can worsen to include muscle weakness, joint swelling, speech problems, heart palpitations and numbness or tingling in limbs. It can usually still be treated, but the recovery might be slower and the misery more profound.
Let your kids run free a little, but be aware of the symptoms of Lyme Disease and act quickly if you suspect your child might have been bitten by an infected tick.