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Lyme disease

  • Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a tiny infected deer tick. This tick (about the size of a pin head) is found in wooded or grassy areas. It can go unnoticed on your child's skin.

    Symptoms of Lyme disease (not all may appear) are:

    • red rash that looks like a target (with a clear center)
    • fever
    • joint and muscle aches, stiff neck
    • headache
    • sore throat

    If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to nerve, joint (arthritis) and heart problems.

    Tip

    Your child cannot pass on Lyme disease to others.

    How to treat Lyme disease

    An antibiotic will treat Lyme disease and may be used,in certain cases, to prevent the disease after a tick bite.

    How to keep from getting Lyme disease

    • Dress your child in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants if you are going to be hiking or in a wooded area.
    • If possible, dress him in light-colored clothing to help make the ticks stand out.
    • Check your child every night during the summer and early fall for ticks. The tick must be attached to your child for more than 24 hours to cause disease. Daily removal of ticks will prevent Lyme disease.
    • In mosquito and tick areas, choose a DEET concentration up to 30 percent for children who are older than 2 months old. It is mildly effective in preventing ticks from attaching to skin.
  • Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."
    Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
    First published: 02/01/2010
    Last reviewed: 01/01/2016