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updated: 7/11/2012 11:11 PM

McHenry County woman diagnosed with tick-borne disease

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The McHenry County Department of Health is asking people to protect themselves from tick bites after a Woodstock woman was hospitalized with Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Officials don't know where the 53-year-old woman got the tick bite, and her serious condition prevents her from speaking, health department spokeswoman Debra Quackenbush said. She would not elaborate on the woman's condition, citing privacy laws.

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The last reported case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in McHenry County was in 2008.

"We are letting people know that ticks are everywhere," Quackenbush said. "They can be in a field or in an empty lot. They hang around on tall grass, waiting for someone to come by so they can hitch a ride. They don't jump at you, you have to brush by where they're at. When you brush by, they will latch on.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first symptoms typically begin 2 to 14 days after the bite of an infected tick. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops.

People should wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to find. Long pants are recommended. People should do full-body tick checks, including in their ears, behind the knees and in their hair. They should also check their pets and any gear taken on outings. The CDC also recommends bathing or showering as soon as possible after coming indoors.

Anyone who experiences symptoms and has had possible exposure to ticks should contact their physician. For more information, call the health department's communicable disease program at (815) 334-4500 or visit http://www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/health/Pages/EHtick.aspx.

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