The Illinois Department of Public Health is asking all Illinoisans to prepare for tick bites as summer season gets into full swing. Tick bites can lead to illness such as Lyme disease, spotted fever group rickettsiosis, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis.
To avoid tick bites, you can conduct a thorough tick-check for you, your children, and your pets. The best time to check for ticks is after spending time in areas ticks are known to inhabit like wooded areas, tall grass, and brush. IDPH's Division of Environmental Health Vector Control Program Manager Samantha Kerr says one way to get rid of ticks is through repellent.
Other ways you can avoid tickborne illnesses is to learn about tick removal and symptom awareness; walk in the center of trails and avoid wooded, bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter; wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to find and tuck your pants into your socks and boots. When you get home, put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for ten minutes or one hour for damp clothes. Removing ticks within 24 hours reduces the risk of disease transmission.
Make sure to bathe or shower within two hours after coming indoors and if you do find a tick on yourself, keep the tick for species identification by placing the tick in rubbing alcohol or in a sealed bag/container and bring it to your healthcare provider. If you do become ill with fever and/or a rash, contact your health care provider. One dangerous disease from ticks is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which can cause death as quickly as five days after symptom onset. For more information, visit the IDPH website or talk to your local physician.