Debbie Siciliano's family moved to Greenwich, Conn., in 1997. Just four months later, her son got a tick bite which led to the contraction of Lyme disease. Searching for information on what to do next, Debbie went to local school officials and told them of her family's experience with Lyme. She asked if others in the community were being educated about it and whether they were aware of its seriousness. The answer, sadly, was no.
Now Debbie is co-president and founder of Time for Lyme, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy network. Her mission is to educate others about this disease.
momlogic: What symptoms did your child have, and how did they differ from typical ailments?
Debbie Siciliano: My child had symptoms including aches and dizziness and a rash. We know that all cases of Lyme do not present with a rash. We were lucky to see it.
ml: How long did your son carry the disease before getting proper treatment? How many doctors did you have to see before someone got it right?
DS: Our story is a little complex. We got immediate treatment three days after seeing the rash. However, it turned out that the initial treatment was not enough. Three months later, other symptoms appeared, including blurry vision and night sweats. It was then that we sought additional medical advice and treatment.
ml: What can parents do to protect themselves and their children from Lyme disease?
DS: Educate yourself! It's the most important step. We encourage parents to go to our website to learn about prevention, diagnosis, tick removal and more.
ml: Is there a season where one is more likely to contract the disease?
DS: Yes. [Lyme] season begins in spring, when the nymphal, or young, ticks appear. These nymphs are very small and difficult to see. The season continues through the summer and even during the fall and winter.
ml: If you spot a tick on your body -- or your child's -- what's the next step?
DS: If you spot it, know how to properly remove it so that you lessen the chances of contracting infection. [momlogic note: Debbie admits that, when she found the tick on her child's body, she removed it incorrectly -- a mistake parents often commit. One should use tweezers to remove the tick, not fingers. Using fingers may force the contents of the tick into the body, spreading the disease.]
ml: Where can families go for more information on Lyme disease?
DS: We welcome families to visit our website at TimeforLyme.org. They can also learn about Lyme from the Columbia University Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia-Lyme.org, and from the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society at Ilads.org.