Cynthia Cobb, MSN, RN, CSN-NJ, May Awareness Guest Blog – School Nurses: Take Action on Lyme Disease

May Awareness LDA Guest Blogger

Cynthia Cobb MSN RN CSN-NJ

Cynthia Cobb is a seasoned registered nurse with nearly 30 years of nursing experience. She is a master’s-prepared certified school nurse in New Jersey and is currently finishing her doctorate (DNP) degree in the specialty area of Systems-Level Leadership with an anticipated completion date this August 2024. Cynthia is the Lead Nurse for the West Deptford School District where she has worked for the past 13 years, the President of the Gloucester County School Nurses Association since November 2018, and an active member of both the New Jersey State School Nurses Association and the National Association of School Nurses.

Cynthia is strongly committed to advancing the profession of school nursing through advocacy, the promotion of best practice guidelines in school health, and educational opportunities for the school nursing profession. She shares the vision of supporting and encouraging other school nurses to empower students to achieve their individual learning potential with the promotion of optimal health, wellness, and safety.

School Nurses: Take Action to Prevent Lyme Disease - Learn about it & Educate Others

by Cynthia Cobb, MSN, RN, CSN-NJ*

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. School nurses are in a prime position to assist with educational efforts for staff, students and families as children are at the highest risk for acquiring Lyme disease. However, in order to educate others and instill preventative efforts against Lyme disease, school nurses themselves must be informed on the topic. 

School nurses need to know the symptoms of Lyme disease. Early signs and symptoms occurring 3 to 30 days after the tick bite, can include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of a rash. 70-80% of individuals develop an erythema migrans (EM) rash beginning at the site of the tick bite. Later signs and symptoms from days to months after the tick bite can include severe headaches and neck stiffness, additional EM rashes on other body areas, facial palsy, arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, intermittent tendon, muscle, joint and bone pain, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, dizziness episodes or shortness of breath, inflammation of the brain, and spinal cord, nerve pain, and shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet. Untreated Lyme disease can result in a wide range of symptoms dependent upon the stage of infection.[1] 

The prevention of tick-borne disease requires a collaborative prevention effort between the school district and the community which can be spearheaded by school nurses. School nurses play a vital role in not only the preventative efforts against tick-borne diseases but are also involved in the early identification of potential cases of Lyme disease. Additionally, school nurses may find themselves as the ones removing ticks found on students. 

New Jersey, my home state, and place of public-school employment, ranks high in cases within the nation for tick-borne diseases and cases of Lyme disease. New Jersey statute requires that Lyme disease prevention be included within public school curriculum, requiring that local educational agencies provide instruction on the prevention of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.[2] 

Through a virtual presentation given in January by Patricia Smith, President of The Lyme Disease Association, Inc., the Gloucester County School Nurse Association raised its members’ awareness of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. School nurses assist daily in meeting the needs of students with chronic health conditions such as Lyme disease. Becoming knowledgeable, aware, and promoting education and preventative efforts for Lyme disease and tick-borne illnesses is imperative for school nurses as the health experts within their school communities. I encourage all school nurses in the United States to seek the knowledge and skills necessary to provide competent, comprehensive education and care to their students, staff and families as your efforts are crucial in the identification of Lyme disease and the management of this plaguing health condition in our communities.

[1] Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 15). Lyme disease: Signs and symptoms of untreated lyme disease.

[2] State of New Jersey, Department of Education. (2023, September 27). Ticks and tick-borne illness education.

*Author Note: The opinions expressed in this Blog are personal opinions of author Cynthia Cobb, MSN, RN, CSN-NJ, only and do not necessarily reflect those of any other entity.

After almost 50 years of Lyme disease, we need to find ways of educating the public and all health professionals about tick-borne diseases. School nurses are in a position to influence what happens to our children with TBD and how those diseases affect their education. LDA thanks Cynthia Cobb, President of Gloucester County School Nurses Association for this guest blog.