"As the weather gets warmer and people spend more time outdoors,
they need to be careful to protect themselves from tick bites," said
Dr. Arnold. "Ticks can transmit a number of diseases through a bite,
so people should be diligent about using personal prevention
measures and insect repellent when they are outdoors in areas where
ticks may be present."
Ticks live in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush and, if
infected, can spread various diseases, including ehrlichiosis, Rocky
Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an
infected deer tick. The first sign of infection is usually a rash at
the site of a tick bite from three to 32 days after the bite. The
rash expands over a period of several days, and the center of the
rash may clear as it enlarges, resulting in what can be referred to
as a "bull's-eye appearance." Ticks can bite without causing
discomfort and the rash is not usually painful, so these rashes can
be overlooked, especially when they occur on areas of the body not
readily noticed, like on a person's back or the back of the leg.
Some combination of fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and
joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes can also occur.
It's important for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of
Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases, so treatment is not
delayed. Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease. Left untreated,
other signs and symptoms of the infection can occur, including
facial palsy, severe headaches and stiff neck, pain and weakness in
the extremities, joint pain with swelling, heart palpitations, and
lightheadedness due to changes in the heartbeat.
The best way to protect against tick-borne illnesses is to avoid
tick bites by taking the following precautions:
clothing often for ticks climbing toward open skin. Wear white
or light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants so the tiny
ticks are easier to see.
Tuck long pants
into your socks and boots. Wear a head covering or hat for added
repellent containing DEET (30 percent or less) to exposed skin,
except the face. Be sure to wash treated skin after coming
indoors. If you do cover up, use repellents containing DEET for
clothing or use permethrin to treat clothes -- especially pants,
socks and shoes -- while in locations where ticks may be common.
Follow label directions; do not misuse or overuse repellents.
Permethrin repellents must be used on clothing only, not on
children in the use of repellents.
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Ticks are usually
found in ankle- to shin-high grass and weeds. Ticks cannot hop
or fly. Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush
"Tick checks" are
an important method of preventing tick-borne diseases. In areas
where ticks may be present, be sure and check yourself, children
and other family members every two to three hours for ticks.
Most ticks seldom attach quickly and rarely transmit tick-borne
disease until they have been attached for four or more hours.
If you let your
pets outdoors, check them often for ticks. Infected ticks also
can transmit disease to them. (Check with your veterinarian
about preventive measures against tick-borne diseases.) You are
at risk from ticks that "hitch a ride" on your pets but fall off
in your home before they feed.
Remove any tick
promptly. Do not try to burn the tick with a match or cover it
with petroleum jelly or nail polish. Do not use bare hands. The
best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with fine-point
tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but
firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If
tweezers are not available, grasp the tick with a piece of cloth
or whatever can be used as a barrier between your fingers and
the tick. You may want to put the tick in a jar of rubbing
alcohol labeled with the date and location of the bite in case
you seek medical attention and your physician wishes to have the
Wash the bite area
and your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Apply an
antiseptic to the bite site.
Keep your grass
mowed and keep weeds cut around your home.
Know the symptoms of tick-borne disease
and consult with your physician if you have a rash or
unexplained fever with flulike illness (without a cough) during
the month following a tick bite -- these can be symptoms of a
For more information about
Department of Public Health
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]