In 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.
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:
Most Lyme disease cases occur between April and October, particularly in June and July.
Besides living in one of these areas, other factors that might increase a child's tick risk include:
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.
If you find a tick:
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
|U.S. National Library of Medicine The National Library of Medicine has health information and the latest medical news.|
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO|
|American Lyme Disease Foundation This organization is dedicated to advancing the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of Lyme disease.|
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