Living with Lyme: pediatricians treating children with tick bites across Central New York

Living with Lyme

CAMILLUS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Our series Living with Lyme continues with a warning from doctors and researchers: ticks are out in droves.

Pediatric offices in Fulton, Liverpool, and Camillus have been treating children for tick bites all month.

At Pediatric Associates of Camillus, the calls keep coming in.

“Onondaga County is hyper-endemic. So, a lot of the ticks are infected,” said pediatrician Tom Abbamont.

He says it’s important to remove the tick as soon as you find it.

You get down by the head of the tick that’s embedded in the skin and you just want to get them as tight as you can with the tweezers and kind of pull it out.

Dr. Tom Abbamont

Pulling it off doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

“Sometimes we can see an arthritis that can develop in the knee or a Bell’s palsy where the face droops. It’s months later. You know six to 36 months later.

Dr. Tom abbamont

He’s talking about Lyme disease, the more common illness you can get from a tick bite.

It’s all about catching it early, which is why his office treats it with the antibiotic doxycycline. For Abbamont, the length and strength of the dose depends on symptoms and how long the tick has been attached.

“If it’s been there for more than 36 hours it’s a one-time dose of doxy,” Abbamont said.

Across town at Upstate Medical University, infectious disease physician Kris Paolino thinks differently because of the years of treating patients with debilitating long-term symptoms.

“24 hours, maybe as little as 18 hours you can get transmission of Lyme.”

dr. kris paolino

Paolino warns the ticks in Central New York are carrying other parasites and infections like Babesia and Anaplasma.

“Your platelets can drop, you can have potential bleeding issues, you can have multi-organ failure,” Paolino warned.

It’s nothing to mess around with.

Ticks lurk in bushes, shrubs, grasses, and leave piles. They like to find warm places to latch on, like behind the knees, in the armpits, groin area, and even in your hair.

Abbamont encourages parents to be tick-aware.

“This time of year it’s very important to check your child once a day,” said Abbamont.

Doctors and researchers recommend you spray your shoes and legs with a tick repellent before going outside. Abbamont says you can use up to 30-percent DEET for kids two months old and up.

Researchers who study ticks also encourage avid hikers to soak their clothes in permethrin. The repellent can last through a few washes.

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