Preventing Lyme Disease

Keep your family safe from tickborne illnesses

As the weather warms up families often head for the great outdoors. Unfortunately, so do ticks and their bite often transmits Lyme Disease. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the best defense again Lyme Disease and other tickborne illnesses is to be educated about prevention.

In addition to Lyme disease, other tickborne diseases include Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. 

Tick Check

According to IDPH, the most important thing people can do is diligently check themselves, their children and their pets for ticks after spending time in areas where ticks live, such as in and near wooded areas, tall grass, and brush. 

Removing ticks within a 24-hour period reduces the risk of potential disease transmission. IDPH has created an interactive Tick Surveillance Map that documents the counties in Illinois where the different tick species have been confirmed.

Following are additional tips for how to avoid tickborne illnesses and have a healthy time in the outdoors:

  • Learn about tick removal and symptom awareness
  • Walk in the center of trails. Avoid wooded, brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to find. Tuck long pants into socks and boots.
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing 20% DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus according to label directions.
  • 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
  • Conduct full-body tick checks on family members (underarms, ears, belly button, behind knees, between legs, waist, hair and scalp) every two to three hours. Also check any gear or pets taken on outings.
  • Put your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes (or one hour for damp clothes) to kill ticks.
  • Shower within two hours after coming indoors.

If you become ill with fever and/or rash after being in an area where ticks may have been, contact your health care provider. Some tick-borne illnesses can be life-threatening.  For example, if untreated  Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever may cause death as quickly as five days after symptom onset.

Find out more about Lyme Disease and how to remove a tick from the Illinois Lyme Association.

Download the Don’t Let a Tick Make You Sick Flyer & Crossword