Lyme Disease (Pediatric)

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a deer tick-transmitted infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the infection may spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system, causing serious complications. As the condition progresses, arthritis may develop and cause recurrent swelling of one or more joints.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Early symptoms include skin manifestations such as an enlarging, warm erythematous rash at the site of the bite that can last days to weeks.  Sometimes there is partial central clearing so it looks like a “bull’s eye.” There also may be fever, headache, fatigue, chills, and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms, weeks, months or years later, may include additional purple swellings or skin atrophy.  Additional illnesses that can develop late may include meningitis, encephalopathy, cranial or facial nerve palsy and arthritis.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

Blood tests measure antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi and help to inform treatment. When diagnosed early, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.  Preventive measures to avoid or minimize tick bites are also important and may include landscaping measures, removal of deer from specific areas, wearing appropriate clothing such as pants tucked into socks, and tick repellants. In endemic areas, frequent or daily searches in order to remove any ticks may be appropriate.