Lyme disease is caused by a very tiny tick called a deer tick. The deer tick is smaller than a sesame seed. There is another common tick, the dog tick, which is larger and does not carry Lyme disease. To transmit Lyme, the tick needs to be attached to the human body for at least 48-72 hours and even then, there is a very low chance of acquiring Lyme disease. Even in high-risk areas (including NJ) only 2% of all deer tick bites result in Lyme disease. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease.
We do not send ticks to be tested for Lyme.
The human body takes a long time to develop antibodies against Lyme so blood tests are not considered reliable until 6 weeks after the tick bite. Additionally, they often stay positive even years after treatment!
A bullseye rash is an early sign of Lyme, usually occurring 7-14 days after the tick bite. The rash is a salmon-red color and is flat. It often, but not always, has a red circular center with clear area around it. It is not painful or itchy. It does not ooze or have scales. It grows in size over a few days.
After a tick bite, we recommend you monitor your child for the bullseye rash. Also watch for swollen, painful joints (most common is the knee area), face paralysis (asymmetrical smile, cannot close one eye), fever, body aches, or headaches.
Most cases of Lyme are diagnosed with no known prior tick bite.
Call Somerset Pediatric Group for an appointment to see a provider if you believe your child has signs of Lyme disease or to discuss Lyme disease further. No studies or prophylactic treatment for Lyme disease of children <12 years old have been done. It is unclear how effective prophylaxis is in preventing actual Lyme disease.