Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

It’s Time to Talk about Ticks

Tick exposure can occur year-round (especially with climate change!), but ticks are most active during the months of April through September.

Dr. Rebecca Smith is a veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. For the past seven years she has co-led a research team that monitors tick activity in the state of Illinois. As part of the Midwest Center for Excellence on Vector-Borne Disease, Dr. Smith translates the prediction models for diseases carried by ticks into recommendations to protect human health.

Common Illinois Tick Species and Diseases They May Transmit

· American Dog Tick: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia

· Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick: Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Powassan Disease

· Gulf Coast Tick: Rickettsiosis, and for dogs Hepatozoon americanum “Canine Hepatozoonosis”

· Lonestar Tick: Ehrlichia, Tularemia, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness “STARI,” alpha-gal syndrome (red meat allergy), and for domestic cats Cytauxzoon felis “Bobcat Fever”

Information about Ticks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Use the Tick App ( to report your tick encounters and get useful advice and tick identification

Protect Yourself and Your Pet from Ticks

· Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

· Use a tick preventive product on your dog. (Do not apply any tick prevention products to your cats without first asking your veterinarian!)

· Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

· Walk in the center of trails.

· Keep your yard clear of tall grasses and leaf litter.

· Check yourself and your pets for ticks daily, especially after spending time outdoors.

· If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, remove it right away.

After You Come Indoors

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. You can kill ticks on dry clothing by

putting the clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended.

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.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Check these parts:

· 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