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Article updated: 8/19/2013 10:33 AM

Avoid ticks and Lyme disease

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By Dave Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--While enjoying the great outdoors this summer, the DuPage County Health Department advises residents to take precautions against ticks to prevent contracting the diseases they carry, including Lyme disease.

Ticks live in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush. If infected, ticks can transmit diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and other diseases.

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A person who experiences a rash, or any unexplained illness, accompanied by a fever following a tick bite, should consult a medical professional. It's important for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases so treatment with appropriate antibiotics is not delayed. If left untreated, some tick-borne diseases can cause serious illnesses and may be fatal.

The best way to protect against tick-borne illnesses is to avoid tick bites by taking the following precautions:

• Ticks are usually found in ankle- to shin-high grass and weeds. Ticks cannot hop or fly. Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you.

• Check your clothing often for ticks climbing toward open skin. Wear white or light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants so the tiny ticks are easier to see.

• Tuck long pants into your socks and boots. Wear a head covering or hat for added protection.

• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin (except the face). Use repellents containing DEET or permethrin to treat clothes while in locations where ticks may be common.

• Remove any tick promptly. The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with fine-point tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out.

• Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water; apply an antiseptic to the bite site.

• Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut back around your home.

• Check your pets for ticks if you let them outdoors.

DuPage County residents with questions about ticks may call the Health Department at (630) 682-7400.

For more information, follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.dupagehealth.org.

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