As the weather warms up and children spend more time playing outside, parents most likely have a routine of applying generous amounts of sunblock to their skin to prevent sunburns. However, it's equally important to check your child after a day outdoors because of a difficult-to-diagnose disease.

Lyme disease is a serious illness which is transmitted through bites from black-legged ticks that have been infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms vary widely on a case-to-case basis, but the easiest to identify and most prevalent is the erythema migrans (EM) rash — more commonly known as a "bull's-eye" rash — that appears in about 70 to 80 percent of infected individuals.


It's fairly common for these bites to be misdiagnosed as spider or mosquito bites, but there are other signs that can indicate whether or not someone has been infected with Lyme disease. The CDC lists other common early symptoms as fever, headache, fatigue, chills, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

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Posted by Karen McGregor on Saturday, June 20, 2015

Later symptoms include severe headaches, increased or worsening EM rashes, severe joint pain and swelling, facial or Bell's palsy, intermittent pain, heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat (Lyme carditis), dizziness, shortness of breath, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with short-term memory.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but early detection is key, the CDC notes. There are precautionary measures you can take — such as using an insect repellent or removing ticks immediately — but the risk of contracting Lyme disease may still persist. If your children are experiencing any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to visit your doctor.