What to know about pediatric Lyme’s disease
By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board certified chiropractic pediatrician and nutrition counselor
When you enjoy the beauty of the Northwoods in the spring and early summer, there is always a possibility that you could contract Lyme’s disease from a tick bite. Lyme’s disease is caused by the bacterium borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected black legged tick. Lyme’s disease can be difficult to diagnose especially if you are not aware that you’ve been bitten by a tick. Children are at risk for this, as the early symptoms are like other things children experience through their growing years.
Beware of the summer flu. Early localized or Stage 1 of Lyme’s disease (3-30 days from the tick bite) symptoms mimic the flu. They include fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, joint aches, sore throat, swollen glands and fatigue.
The “bullseye rash” or erythema migrans is often associated with Stage 1 Lyme’s disease. The bullseye rash does not always occur with Lyme’s disease in children. If your child has flu like symptoms in the late spring or summer and there is a rash on the legs, groin, armpits, hairline, torso, or ears, then it could be Lyme’s disease.
Early disseminated or Stage 2 Lyme’s disease is seen in one to three months and is often characterized by neurological symptoms such as meningitis, ataxia, facial palsy (five percent of children with Lyme’s), myoclonus, vertigo, polyneuritis, acute transverse myelitis with hemiparesis and idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
Less than one percent of patients with Stage 2 Lyme’s disease develop borrelial lymphocytoma. This is a small, bluish-red nodule or plaque often found on the earlobe or scrotum in children. It is more common to be found on the nipple of adults.
Late Stage 3 is characterized by intermittent, recurrent, periarticular joint pain and swelling lasting days to months. In 50-60% of untreated children this may be the only presenting symptom and resembles septic arthritis or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Other late stage symptoms common to children are a decline in school performance, Facial or Bell’s palsy, recurrent stomach aches, multiple bull’s-eye rash is or other rashes, hot red ear lobes, cardiac symptoms, flu like symptoms, headaches, abdominal migraines, and knee pain and swelling.
The good news is that antibiotic therapy has about a 75% success rate in resolving the symptoms of Lyme’s disease.
Tick bites and Lyme’s disease are a downside of living in the beauty of the Northwoods but can be prevented. Prevent tick bites by wearing light and full-length clothing covering the legs and arms. Do full body tick checks after being outdoors. Teach your children how to check each other and why this is important. Ticks flourish in grassy areas especially when moist and wet. Check your clothing and pets for ticks as they can transport them into your home. Placing your clothing in the dryer will kill ticks as they are susceptible to heat. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, lemon, geranium, palmarosa, pennyroyal and cedarwood will repel ticks. If you suspect that your child may have Lyme’s disease, please have them tested. The Fox Valley Wellness Center specializes in the detection and treatment of Lyme’s disease.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.