Don’t Put the Lyme in the Coconut

Two summers ago on the last day of our family vacation in central Maine, my younger son woke up with a large red welt on his cheek. Because we were in Maine where insects outnumber humans by what seems like 1 billion to 1, my wife and I just figured that it was some sort of bug bite that he sustained during the night. Later that day on our way home, I noticed that his eyes looked a little glassy, the welt on his cheek had grown bigger and he started to feel warm. We both figured he was starting to get sick or run down after a long week of playing hard at the lake.

The next day, my wife called me at work to tell me that he woke up with a high fever and small red circles all over his body, and she was going to take him to see his Pediatrician. We were later informed that test results confirmed that he tested positive for Lyme disease. My wife and I were both shocked, as we never even found a tick on his body prior to showing the symptoms.

Because I had never had any experience with Lyme disease, I immediately started to research the topic. Below is some information that I learned about Lyme which may be helpful for you in detecting early symptoms of the disease.

  • Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged deer ticks.
  • Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.
  • If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
  • Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.
  • Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.
  • Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat.
  • The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.

In my son’s case, we considered ourselves fortunate that he displayed the classic symptoms which resulted in a quick diagnosis and treatment of the infection. Since this event, my wife and I have been very diligent about conducting tick checks on our two boys when they have been exposed to tall grass or wooded areas. Deer ticks have become very prevalent in the Northeast over the years, and it’s a problem that needs to be taken seriously.

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