Tick known to carry pathogen causing Tidewater spotted fever found in suburban Chicago

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Sunday, July 25, 2021
Tick season could be worse this year, experts say
People who have been stuck inside because of COVID-19 may "let their guard down" when they're able to venture into the outdoors, experts say.

WAYNE, Ill. (WLS) -- A tick species native to the southeastern part of the United States has been found outside Chicago.

Three Gulf Coast ticks were located earlier this month in the Dunham Forest Preserve in Wayne, according to The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald. Wayne is roughly 40 miles west of Chicago.

The species is more likely than others to carry the pathogen causing Tidewater spotted fever, which could cause a headache, muscle aches and rash, among other things.

TRY IT: Can you find the 5 ticks on this muffin?

The Centers for Disease Control is raising tick awareness with a photo of a muffin.

"Don't be scared, be prepared. We don't need to freak out," said Holly Tuten, vector ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey Medical Entomology Lab at the University of Illinois.

The ticks have previously found in more than a dozen Illinois counties, but in small numbers. Then last year 780 were found in Illinois after researchers found a new way of searching for them, Tuten told the newspaper.

However, only adults have been found, suggesting they might not be able to survive Illinois winters.

Experts said Gulf Coast ticks can be avoided in the same ways as other ticks. Experts recommend remaining on the center of nature trails and wearing protective clothing when in grassy areas.

Tips for preventing tick bites from the CDC

Before You Go Outdoors

Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.

Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

Use EPA-registered insect repellent. EPA's helpful search toolexternal icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.

Avoid Contact with Ticks. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.

After You Come Indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view 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 belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs, around the waist

The Associate Press contributed to this report.

The video featured is from a previous report.