Eden Village is on the Appalachian Trail and surrounded by woods. We want you to be fully informed about the dangers of Lyme Disease and make an educated decision regarding your child and the options available if your child wants to participate in the woods this summer.
Because Lyme is a fairly new disease, there is controversy in the medical community around the proper diagnosis and treatment of Lyme. There are two main schools of thought - ILADS vs CDC - and it is important that you know which "camp" your doctor is in and the differences between the two camps. Please read the New Yorker article "The Lyme Wars" to understand the divide. Some of the information is outdated but it gives a good overview.
Lyme Disease is a progressive bacterial infection that is transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. The bite usually goes unnoticed because it doesn't hurt. It is often characterized initially by fatigue, fever, and chills. About 50% of the time, a spreading, red, ring-shaped rash forms within a month of the bite. If Lyme Disease is left untreated, it may later manifest itself in joint pain, arthritis, and cardiac and neurological disorders. People are more likely to get Lyme disease if they live or spend time in grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying the disease thrive.
It's important to take precautions in areas where ticks are prevalent. Ticks carrying Lyme Disease are most common in the northeastern U.S, the upper midwestern U.S., along the Pacific coast - and are ever-present in the Hudson Valley that encompasses Eden Village. It is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, and be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.
The best way to avoid Lyme Disease is to avoid direct contact with ticks. This means avoiding wooded and brushy areas, high grass and leaf litter, edges of forests, fallen logs, mulch, and shady grassy areas. If someone is in the forest, it's important to walk in the center of trails. Our lake trail at Eden Village will be well maintained with trim on the sides to prevent grass from growing on it, and will be regularly sprayed with tick repellent.
WE RECOMMEND REPELLENT THAT CONTAINS "DEET"
As you know, we at Eden Village love natural and organic products -- but we actually don't recommend "natural" bug repellents, because when it comes to Lyme risk, we want to use the most effective protection. We (together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend using repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts 12 hours.
The CDC also recommends using products that contain permethrin on clothing. Prior to camp, we recommend treating clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, and socks, with products containing permethrin.
At Eden Village, everyone entering the woods on our specially-cleared forest trail must wear light-colored pants tucked into their socks, agree to perform additional tick checks, and wear a tick repellent. Please see our Amazon site for examples of tick pants.
If someone has spent time outside in an area where ticks are known to be prevalent, the next step is to do a thorough check in order to find and remove ticks from the body. According to the CDC, this means conducting a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of the body, including under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in the hair. At Eden Village, we do daily tick checks in stages. Children are instructed to always check their private areas during their mandatory, daily showers. The children check their “public” areas daily with a buddy; on even days the buddy is a counselor, and on odd days the buddy is a fellow camper.
WHAT IF WE FIND A TICK AT CAMP?
If a tick is found on anyone at Eden Village, it is removed by the nurse. If parents have preauthorized administering the Lyme Prophylactic Treatment, it is administered immediately. If parents haven't, they are contacted within three hours to decide if they want it administered.
The CDC Lyme Prophylactic Treatment is a single dose of doxycycline (200 mg) that some doctors believe to be effective in adult patients and children older than 8 years of age. There is also another prophylactic protocol from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), whose research shows that the single-dose Prophylactic Treatment is not adequate: it is only enough to prevent acute symptoms and yield a negative Lyme test, but it doesn't prevent Lyme from developing long-term. ILADS recommends 20 days of antibiotics as a preventive measure, rather than one. We can administer this, too, upon your request.
It's important to understand that if a tick is missed, Lyme Disease symptoms can develop over the course of the next month, which can thus be after a child has returned home from camp. If a rash develops, it typically occurs before the onset of other symptoms, so we strongly encourage parents to keep a vigilant eye on their children. Other Lyme Disease-related symptoms include fever, chills, aches and pains, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, anxiety, and tonsil swelling. Most doctors recommend an aggressive, multi-week antibiotic treatment for Lyme Disease at this stage, which often clears all symptoms.
With all tick-borne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset, and the severity and time of onset of any of these symptoms can depend on the patient's personal tolerance level. It's important to consult a doctor even if signs and symptoms disappear; the absence of symptoms doesn't mean the disease is gone. Left untreated, Lyme Disease can spread to other parts of the body from several months to years after infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems.
More information about Lyme Disease can be found on the website of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. If you suspect there may be a Lyme infection, we encourage you to see a doctor from the ILADS website (they have a Provider Search by zip code on their website), because Lyme research is rapidly emerging and it is extremely helpful to be treated by a doctor whose information is up to date and who sees a lot of Lyme patients.