Press Release
May 10, 2013
Melaney Arnold (217) 558-0500

Avoiding Tickborne Disease

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tularemia, ehrlichiosis

SPRINGFIELD – As the weather warms up and people spend more time outdoors, it’s important to take precautions against tick bites and the illnesses they can carry, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tularemia and ehrlichiosis. Tickborne diseases can cause mild symptoms, severe infections requiring hospitalization and even death. Last year in Illinois, preliminary numbers show 50 cases of ehrlichiosis, four cases of tularemia, 204 cases of Lyme disease and 151 cases of Rock Mountain spotted fever, which included one death.

“Diagnosing tickborne illness is based largely on the patient’s knowledge that they’ve been bitten by a tick and the signs and symptoms of illness,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “While antibiotics can treat illnesses due to tick bites, it’s best to avoid tick bites altogether by taking some simple precautions.”

Recommendations to avoid tick bites:
  • Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin. Always follow product instructions.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants (especially the cuffs), socks and tents. Or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Tuck long pants into your socks and boots. Wearing light-colored pants makes ticks easier to see.
  • In areas where there are ticks, check yourself, children and other family members every two to three hours for ticks (especially ears, hair, neck, legs and between the toes).
  • If you let your pets outdoors, check them often for ticks. Ticks can “hitch a ride” on your pets, but fall off in your home before they feed. Tick collars, sprays, shampoos, or monthly “top spot” medications help protect against ticks.

If you do find a tick, on yourself, others or pets, remove it promptly. 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. Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to the bite site.

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
Questions or Comments