Illinois officials warn of increase in ticks

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AURORA, Ill. — A county health department in northeastern Illinois has issued a warning about ticks.

The Kane County Health Department has worked with the county’s Forest Preserve District to put up displays at forest preserve locations to warn residents about ticks, The Courier-News reported.

The displays also provide tips on how to avoid getting bitten.

The number of people contracting illnesses from ticks, mosquitoes and fleas has been increasing for years, said Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Insect-borne disease has increased in the state by nearly 60 percent from 2004 to 2016, she said.

A relatively mild winter and high rainfall have contributed to the tick increase, said Katie Stover, a veterinarian with Hampshire Animal Hospital and Gilberts Animal Clinic. Veterinarians are seeing more cases of the American dog tick, the deer tick and lone star ticks, she said.

Researchers have found that ticks that were once isolated to southern Illinois are now being found in the northern part of the state and vice versa, Arnold said.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine launched a program this spring called I-TICK to keep track of which types of ticks are found in the state, she added.

Not all ticks carry disease, but they can spread things like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Preventative measures include wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and boots when in areas where ticks may be present. Residents should also use insect repellent, check each other for ticks, keep grass short and apply sprays to lawns and gardens to control ticks. Ticks on clothing or skin can be removed with cellophane or masking tape, while embedded ticks can be removed with tweezers.