Many children in Vermont are at high risk for contracting Lyme disease. According to the CDC, the highest infection rates occur in children, ages 5 to 9. Of the 300,000 people infected in the U.S. each year, one in four is a child.
The Vermont Department of Health’s 2014 Lyme Surveillance Report showed less than half of Vermont children with a confirmed case of Lyme disease had a “Bulls-Eye” rash.
In addition to well-known symptoms such as joint pain and fever, children may have a unique presentation of Lyme disease, including:
- Mood Swings
- Vision Problems
- Headaches and Stomachaches
- Hyperactivity/ADHD Symptoms
- Autism-like Behaviors
- Oppositional Behaviors
- Self-Mutilating Behaviors
- Learning Disabilities
- Trouble with Processing Speed and Memory
- Vocal/Motor Tics
- Sudden Onset Anxiety Disorders
- Light and Sound Sensitivity
- Difficulty Focusing
- Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors
- Dark circles under eyes
- Irregular Rashes
Young children may not recognize or volunteer these signs and symptoms
“Some of these symptoms may be very subtle, so it is difficult for [parents and] teachers to realize that they are dealing with a sick child, rather than a child who is daydreaming, or simply trying to avoid his school work.”
—S. Berenbaum, LCSW
What You Should Know
Sometimes neurological/cognitive symptoms are the only symptoms of a Lyme infection
Other times better known symptoms like joint pain, fever, and an Erythema migrans (“Bulls-Eye”) rash are present.
Pediatric Lyme disease can cause behavior problems
Pediatric Lyme disease has been misdiagnosed as OCD, or pediatric Bi-polar disorder. It can also cause Depression. When a child exhibits sudden changes in behavior with no known cause, the possibility of Lyme and other tick-borne infections should be considered.
Lyme disease symptoms can be vague, and change daily
Some children with tick-borne disease have been accused of malingering, or trying to manipulate parents, coaches or teachers. Children who’s symptoms appear to be disingenuous may be genuinely ill.