McHenry County Department of Health

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Protect yourself from ticks, Lyme disease

Post Date:05/11/2017 11:52 AM

 WOODSTOCK ILMcHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) wants residents to take precautions against tick bites to prevent contracting the diseases they may carry, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease.  Ticks live in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush. Although other ticks can spread disease, the Black-legged or Deer Tick is the tick largely responsible for the spread of Lyme disease in Illinois. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Illinois reported 287 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2015, the last year for which data is available.

 Lyme disease typically occurs 3 to 30 days after exposure to an infected tick. Symptoms can differ from person to person and may include fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and often a skin rash (which may have a “bull’s eye” appearance).  Usually the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted, so it’s important to check yourself after being outside. Early detection and recognition of tick bites and tick-borne disease symptoms are critical.  Many cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.  If you experience these symptoms, and have had possible exposure to ticks, contact your physician.

 The best way to protect against tick-borne illness includes –

  • Educate yourself and family about tick identification, removal and symptom awareness.
  • Walk in the center of trails.  Avoid wooded, bushy areas with high grass.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to find. Tuck long pants into socks and boots.
  • Apply insect repellent (follow instructions) containing DEET (20% or more) to exposed skin
  • Conduct full-body tick checks on family members (underarms, ears, belly button, behind knees, between legs, waist, hair and scalp). Also check any gear taken on outings.
  • The CDC recommends bathing or showering within 2 hours after coming indoors.
  • If tick bites occur, keep ticks for identification and testing.
  • Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect.  Keep pets out of tick habitats like tall grass/brush. Always examine pets before bringing them inside. 
  • Consult with your veterinarian regarding tick repellents for pets.

 For more information on Lyme disease, contact MCDH at 815-334-4500, or visit www.mcdh.info, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/.

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