Up until last year, the primary source of ticks in the United States was caused by Americans bringing them back from traveling abroad; however, ticks are now prevalent in the United States.
The most common tick-borne illness in the United States is Lyme disease, which when left untreated, can be a source of severe health problems. Dr. Brian Donnelly, a board-certified pediatrician at the North Hills Division of Pediatric Alliance, provides information and advice that can help parents prevent and treat members of their family who have been bitten by a tick.
Dr. Donnelly indicates that there are three major types of ticks, including the Deer, Wood/Dog and Lone Star. Deer and Wood ticks are commonly found in western Pennsylvania; the Lone Star tick is now becoming more prevalent in this region. Dr. Donnelly suggests the safest way to remove a tick is by gripping the tick near its jaw with a pair of tweezers and pulling it straight out.
If the tick carries Lyme disease, symptoms can arise anywhere from three to thirty days after the bite. One of the first symptoms that occurs is a rash with a characteristic bulls-eye appearance. This rash can occur at the site of the bite or anywhere else on the body. If the rash is found during the first stage, then treatment is easy and effective. During the second stage, treatment becomes more difficult and symptoms such as joint swelling- neurological complications may arise.
One of the most common treatments for Lyme disease is doxycycline, which is an antibiotic administered over a three-week period, or amoxicillin for children. After spending time outdoors, especially in wooded areas, Dr. Donnelly recommends examining the entire body for ticks. Ticks tend to bite heated areas of the body, including the hairline, wrists and ankles. Wearing long sleeves and pants can help prevent tick bites. Dr. Donnelly further recommends the use of DEET, which is a repellant that is applied to the skin to prevent insect bites.
Pediatric Alliance wishes to provide all of their patients and families with information to ensure the safety of children. Knowing how to identify and prevent tick bites is just one safety measure that parents can take in protecting their children from possible harmful health problems.