Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lyme Disease

By; Alvin N. Eden, MD

We are spending our vacation this summer in a wooded area and I am worried about Lyme disease. How can I prevent my two-year-old daughter from catching it?

A You can protect your daughter from Lyme disease by taking some simple preventive measures. First, make certain that she wears protective cover-up clothing when outdoors, especially in the woods. This means dress her in clothes that cover as much skin as possible--a hat, long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks and closed shoes. An insect repellent also can be helpful. Be careful with products containing Deet. If Deet-containing, they should have concentrations of less than 10%.

Lyme disease is transmitted by a deer tick bite. The good news is that even if your child is bitten by an infected deer tick, it takes at least 24 hours of the tick being attached to her skin for the organism to be transmitted to her. Therefore, it is very important for you to carefully examine her from top to bottom each night, checking for any ticks. If you find one and remove it properly, you have nothing to worry about, since the tick was attached for less than 24 hours and therefore no harm was done.

The proper way to remove a tick is as follows:

1) Clean the area with an alcohol sponge

2) Using forceps or tweezers, grasp the tick as close to its mouth and the person's skin as possible

3) Using gentle steady tension, pull the tick out and save it to show to your doctor

4) Clean the area thoroughly with alcohol

There are many cases of Lyme disease where there is no history of a tick bite and so those cases are more difficult to diagnose. Of course, if you suspect that your child may have Lyme disease, check with your doctor. A circular rash, headache, fever, muscle aches and pains should raise your index of suspicion. There are blood tests that can confirm the diagnosis. Antibiotic treatment started within 30 days of transmission is very effective in treating and curing this infection.

If you follow these suggestions, you can relax and enjoy your vacation without having to worry.

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