As your children are playing outdoors in these summer months, it is important to be proactive in preventing tick exposure and tick bites. Illinois has seen a rise in tick illness due to the warmer summer months we have experienced thus far. Ticks are mainly active outdoors in wooded areas, but most people are actually bitten in their own yards. It is important to remove a tick as soon as possible to minimize the risk of disease transmission. Signs of illness usually occur 7-21 days after the initial exposure. Most people who are bit by a tick do not remember the initial bite.

How to prevent tick bites:

  • Clear tall grass and bushes, mow the lawn frequently, and remove leaf litter
  • Keep playground equipment, patios and picnic tables away from trees and lawn edges
  • Use bug repellent with DEET.
  • Use permethrin on clothing.
  • Wear lighter clothing when in wooded area. Keep clothing tucked in.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Check pets for ticks regularly
  • Bathe as soon as possible after coming indoors and perform head to toe tick checks taking special attention in scalp, groin, armpits, behind knees and behind ears.

How to remove a tick:

  • Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the head of the tick as closest to the skin as possible
  • Pull upward with firm and steady pressure
  • Make sure all mouth parts have been removed.
  • After tick removal, clean the skin with soap and water.  Apply over the counter antibiotic ointment.

Most tick bites do not require a visit to the doctor.  Watch for fever, joint pain or swelling, rash, or other symptoms.  Call with any questions or concerns.

For more information, visit the CDC or Healthy Children websites.

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