Disease-spreading ticks are present throughout Illinois, but researchers say those who go outside can take precautions to limit the risk. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the tick species that may be common in your area, as well as some common steps below that can help you stay protected while enjoying the warmer weather ahead. If you happen to find a tick attached to you, remove it using fine tweezers, grasping it close to the skin, as soon as possible to avoid transmission of pathogens.
The Illinois Department of Health recommends the following precautions:
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of the trails.
- Treat clothing and equipment with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear, and it remains protective after multiple washes.
- Use EPA-registered repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Always follow product instructions.
- Shower soon after being outside. Showering within two hours of going indoors has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne illnesses. The shower can help wash off unattached ticks, and it’s a good opportunity to do a tick check.
- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Perform a full body check upon returning from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to see all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks: under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs, around the waist
- Contact a doctor if you begin to experience symptoms of tick-borne disease (fever, rash, body aches, headache, chills)