We visited the Vyne, a National Trust venue near Basingstoke in Hampshire, which was stunning and had so much for the children to do. Tick bites and Lyme disease were the last things on my mind.
We met up with family and had a great time exploring the very extensive woodland (where we found our first geocache), the walled garden, house and chapel, and having a nice long walk around the ornamental lake. I’d thoroughly recommend visiting.
The day after our visit one of my daughters told me they had a spider on their arm. I took a look and saw a weird black spot on the inside of her elbow. I tried to rub it off but it didn’t budge. I kept picking, but then was concerned that maybe I was actually scratching off a mole. Then the thing came off. I put it on some white paper and discovered it had legs!! I immediately took a photo. I wasn’t sure what it was and whether it was something I needed to be concerned about, so I consulted the Oracle that is Facebook, and my friends immediately responded. It was unanimous: it was a tick. Everyone said I should get it checked out, as without using a proper removal tool I may have left part of the tick in her skin and this would be bad. This site has some very useful information about proper removal and dos and don’ts.
The doctor took my call very seriously and we went the same day. He couldn’t ascertain whether I had removed the whole thing or not. He said I needed to be very vigilant and had to look out for a ‘target/bullseye rash’ which expands radially from the site of the tick bite, and which can occur from two to 30 days after the initial bite. This is a symptom of Lyme disease. Other early symptoms could include a fever and fatigue. However, the bullseye rash doesn’t always appear (in as many as one in three cases it doesn’t) and the fatigue in children isn’t constant i.e. they could be running around one minute, lying on the sofa the next and then back up and running around again. This would be pretty difficult to diagnose as would the other ‘symptom’ of tantrums. What child aged three doesn’t have tantrums?
A more comprehensive symptom checklist can be found at the Children’s Lyme Disease Network.
The doctor didn’t want to give a course of antibiotics unnecessarily, but said that if she experienced any symptoms to go back immediately and then antibiotics would be administered. So we applied Savlon and kept a very close eye. However, I kept reading up about it and got more and more concerned. I called the doctor again and asked for precautionary antibiotics as I didn’t want potentially 30 days of monitoring for symptoms (excluding the rash) that where – at best – rather vague.
By the way, in many countries antibiotics are given as standard following a tick bite and the UK is renowned for being bad at diagnosing Lyme disease.