Lyme disease in children: what you need to know

What is Lyme disease? How do you catch it, what are the symptoms and how is it treated?

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Lyme disease is on the rise. Public Health England estimates that there are around 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease (contracted from tick bites) in the UK each year. But charities like Lyme Disease UK and Caudwell LimeCo suggest this number could be more like 45,000 😲  (see their reasoning here).

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Whatever the true number, one thing’s for sure: the number of confirmed cases has gone up a lot since UK records began in 2003, when there were only 346.

And a number of UK hotspots for ticks have now been identified.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which can be transmitted by being bitten by a tick – although not all ticks carry the disease (Lyme Disease UK reckons 4 types of ticks here in the UK are carriers).

Lyme disease is already well-known in the US – where there are around 30,000 cases per year, and US celebs including Ben Stiller, Avril Lavigne and Richard Gere have talked about having it – but it’s not so widely known about in the UK.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

The number 1 telltale sign of Lyme disease is a rash, like a round ‘bullseye’ below:

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Lyme disease can also go on to cause:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • poor sleep

But, if you’ve been infected, the effects can take up to 3 months to show.

What’s the treatment for Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is usually treated in the early stages with antibiotics, like amoxycillin or doxycycline. 

In a small amount of cases, though, symptoms like fatigue, muscle ache and joint pains often last beyond treatment, and may go on for up to 6 months after being infected.

How can I stop my child from getting infected with Lyme disease?

The best way to stop your child from getting Lyme disease is to make sure they don’t come into direct contact with ticks.

There are lots of ways to do this – have a look at our our article about ticks – including putting them in appropriate clothing when out walking and making sure they stick to paths rather than walking in high grass areas. 

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