The McHenry County Department of Health wants residents to take precautions against tick bites to prevent contracting diseases they might 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 diseases, the black-legged or deer tick is largely responsible for the spread of Lyme disease in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 237 cases of Lyme disease in 2016, 26 in McHenry County.
Lyme disease typically occurs three to 30 days after exposure to an infected tick. Symptoms can differ from person to person and can include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint pain, as well as a skin rash. 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.
The best ways to protect against tick-borne illnesses include:
• Educate yourself and family members about tick identification, removal and symptom awareness.
• Walk in the center of trails and avoid wooded, bushy areas with high grass.
• Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to find, and tuck long pants into socks and boots.
• Apply insect repellent (following instructions) containing Deet (20 percent or more) to exposed skin.
Consult with your veterinarian regarding tick repellents for pets. For information, search Lyme disease at www.mcdh.info, or visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/lyme or Illinois Department of Public Health at www.dph.illinois.gov.