In our house, I call myself the Tick Police. Before going out to play, we have rules. First is the natural tick repellant (search this blog for the recipe). This works great; even keeps mosquitos and gnats away. But, I do not trust it completely. Before going into the woods or higher grass, our children have to be in long pants that are tucked into their boots…even in summer. If we are in the woods, everyone wears a ball cap. Our neighbors have complained about multiple tick bites, but we have had ZERO in our neighborhood this year. Taking precautions in an endemic area is vital to staying safe and well.
My 8-year-old son has had Lyme disease twice in his short little life. He was born with gestational Lyme and then was re-infected by a tick bite when he was in Kindergarten. I use the term Lyme loosely; he also had the cohorts Babesia and Bartonella. Although I take my job as Tick Police very seriously, my son was bitten by a tick outside of our control and was bitten at school. Our administrators have been very supportive of our Lyme disease. My husband and I have never felt judged for multiple tardies when our kiddos were at their worse. They believed us when we said our son (and daughter) had Lyme and needed to be screened for an IEP. It really was no surprise to me that our principal already requested for our schoolyard to be sprayed and was willing to do what it took to keep his students safe. Sadly, he mentioned we were one of five schools targeting ticks. How many school are in your county? I know we have MANY that were not treated.
What to do About an Attached Tick
The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Association (ILADS) is an educational body of medical physicians and other professionals. Their objective is to teach each other how to prevent and treat tick borne diseases. This association provides volumes of research and makes thorough recommendations for treatment protocols, both acute and chronic. ILADS recommends initiating 3 weeks of preventative antibiotics within 72 hours of an attached tick, especially for those living in an endemic area. I think of this protocol as being very similar to a nurse or doctor accidently getting pricked by a needle in a hospital. Medical professionals have the option of taking prophylactic antibiotics too; just to be sure to catch an infection before it has time to do anything harmful. What makes this information muddy and murky is the lack of comprehensive understanding within the general medical community. Some pediatricians refuse to give immediate prophylactic treatment to a tick bite unless a rash or other symptoms are present. Unfortunately, less than 50% of people infected with Lyme disease will show a rash.
My son has been in a good place for a number of months now. Adding 3 weeks of antibiotics to his herbal cocktail didn’t thrill us; but it had to be done. To help his sensitive little body, we increased his detox baths to daily and made sure there were NO food dyes in his antibiotics. He is doing great.
Specific Suggestions for Lyme Disease Prevention in Children
To summarize the information in this post, please keep in mind the following ideas...
Our children need us to protect them. Increase their chances of safety by taking well calculated precautions; not based out of fear, but rather from education.
Educate your school administrators and ask questions. See if any ticks have been spotted. Ask for the schoolyard to be sprayed. The Loudoun Lyme Disease Commission has guidelines for schools to follow, but your school may need to know you and others find it necessary and vital for these to be explored.
Take every tick bite seriously. Our county is an endemic area. Be careful and mindful of how easy it can be to stop infection with immediate antibiotics. Don't be afraid to advocate for your health and the health of your child and help educate your physician to new statistics and protocols coming out of ILADS.
Unless specified, Gabrielle Anderson, lmft is the author of these posts. Gabrielle is a Therapist and the Director at FTC. She is a married mother of 2 and has experienced chronic infection in the practice, herself and in her family.
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