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Beware of Lyme Disease Causing Ticks

The Ogle County Health Department wants to remind people of the potential threat associated with tick bites. The Ogle County Health Department has investigated three cases of Lyme disease since the month of February. 

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected tick. Blacklegged ticks (or deer ticks, Ixodes scapulatis) are the primary carriers of Lyme disease in the Midwest region. These ticks are usually found in wooded areas, as they need higher humidity levels to survive. They can attach themselves to any part of the human body but are often found in hard to see areas. In most cases, a tick must be attached for 36-48 hours before Lyme disease can be transmitted. To remove a tick, take a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Then steadily pull upward with even pressure. Clean area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Do not crush the tick or use petroleum jelly, nail polish, or a match to remove the tick.   

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Typical symptoms consist of chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rashes. If left untreated it would lead to heart and the nervous system complications. 

If diagnosed with Lyme disease several antibiotics can be used. Given by mouth or intravenously depending on the severity of the case. Patients treated in the early stages of infection recover rapidly and completely. Patients treated in later stages respond well to antibiotics but have an increased chance of permanent damage to joints or the nervous system. However, Lyme disease is rarely life-threatening. 

The following tips can help prevent getting bit from an infected tick: 

  • Avoid wooded and brushy area with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Use repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or 2-undecanone.
  • Use clothing treated with permethrin.

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