Cases of Lyme disease have been rising significantly in children from Western Pennsylvania, according to a study by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Their research shows that while only five children in the region had confirmed cases of Lyme disease 2003, the number had risen to 285 by 2013.
A pediatrician from UPMC’s Bedford office says the latest figures show that the infection in kids continues to increase. This summer, Dr. Amy Mullen says, she’s seeing at least one new case every week. However, Dr. Mullen says the actual number of children with Lyme disease is much higher than the official data show. They only reflect cases that have been confirmed by lab testing.
If a child comes to her office with the bulls-eye Lyme rash and suffers from joint pain, she makes a diagnosis and treats her patient with antibiotics.
“The majority of Lyme cases we see are early in the course of Lyme disease and that’s really when we want to catch it, so when they initially have the rash or have the milder symptoms, like maybe a few no-specific joint aches, that’s when we want to catch it because that’s when Lyme is most treatable,” she explains.
Dr Mullen says a course of antibiotics will cure those patients, but if Lyme goes untreated for six months or so, it can result in chronic joint pain.
She advises parents to check their children for ticks after they’ve bee playing outside. Other prevention techniques include using an insecticide with DEET and wearing long sleeves and long pants, when in grassy or wooded areas.
Dr. Mullen adds that f you remove a tick within 36 hours, your chances of contracting Lyme disease is virtually nil.