May 9, 2008
State public health director advises protection against ticks and disease
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, is warning residents to take precautions against tick bites to prevent contracting the diseases ticks can carry. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Now through June is the peak period for tick activity, since ticks become active when the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more at ground level.
“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 tickborne 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 light headedness due to changes in the heartbeat.
The best way to protect against tickborne illnesses is to avoid tick bites by taking the following precautions:
For more information about ticks, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia, log on to the Department’s Web site at http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/hbhome.htm
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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