Evaluate Your Child's Lyme Disease Risk

Print this page Bookmark and Share
Parents

Lea este articulo en EspanolIn warm weather, the threat of Lyme disease might make you think that your kids would be safer in your living room than in the great outdoors.

Though a child's risk of getting Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick is only about 1%-3%, it's important to consider the factors that affect Lyme disease risk.

Location

It's true that Lyme disease is the leading tick-borne disease in the United States, with 20,000 to 30,000 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year. Most cases of Lyme disease occur in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and Pacific coast areas of the United States.

Lyme disease incidence has been reported in other states (and even in Asia, Europe, and Canada), but those hardest hit are:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

Most Lyme disease cases occur between April and October, particularly in June and July.

Outdoor Activities and Pets

Besides living in one of these areas, other factors that might increase a child's tick risk include:

  • spending a lot of time outdoors in tall grass, brush, shrubs, or wooded areas
  • having pets that may carry ticks indoors
  • participating in activities such as landscaping, hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting in tick-infested areas

Safety Tips

So your teen got a job as a landscaper this summer and you're planning a family camping trip — does that mean Lyme disease is in your family's future? No, but it does mean that you should take some precautions to protect your family — such as using insect repellent and wearing light-colored clothing when outdoors to make spotting ticks easier — and know how to remove a tick, just in case.

Illustration

If you find a tick:

  • Call your doctor, who may want you to save the tick after removal for identification as the type that may carry Lyme disease or another type of illness. You can put the tick in a sealed container to preserve it.
  • Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin.
  • Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it lets go of the skin. If part of the tick stays in the skin, don't worry, it will eventually come out — although you should call your doctor if you notice any irritation in the area or symptoms of Lyme disease.
  • Swab the bite site with alcohol.

One note of caution: Don't use petroleum jelly or a lit match to kill a tick — they're not effective. These methods won't get the tick off your skin and might just cause the insect to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which increases the chances of disease transmission).

It's important to remove the tick as soon as possible. The longer the tick is attached, the greater the chance that Lyme disease will be transmitted. Usually, bacteria from a tick bite will enter the bloodstream only if the tick stays attached to the skin for 24-48 hours or longer. If the tick is removed within 1-2 days, it is less likely to have transmitted Lyme disease.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013



Related Resources

Web SiteU.S. National Library of Medicine The National Library of Medicine has health information and the latest medical news.
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
OrganizationAmerican Lyme Disease Foundation This organization is dedicated to advancing the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of Lyme disease.


Related Articles

Tick Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide Boy, your child's freckles really stand out in the sun - but wait, that one isn't a freckle at all. It's a tick. What should you do?
Lyme Disease Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease in kids is almost always treatable.
Woods and Camping Safety for the Whole Family A family camping trip can be an enjoyable experience with a little preparation.
How Can I Protect My Family From Ticks? Find out what the experts say.
How Do I Watch for Lyme Disease After Removing a Tick? Find out what the experts have to say.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com



 

Upcoming Events

Car Seat Safety Check

For a fun night of playing games and having a good time, families are encouraged to bring any board games, card games or other fun games to play. Pizza and beverages provided. Feel free to bring a snack or dessert to share.

Car Seat Safety Check

Car Seat Safety Check

View full event calendarView full event calendar

Health and Safety

Your child's health and safety is our top priority

Accreditations

The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815
937-641-3000
www.childrensdayton.org