According to a May 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. from 2004 through 2016. The report states that, since many infections are not recognized or reported, it’s difficult to estimate the overall cost and burden of these diseases.
Tickborne diseases accounted for more than 60% of all reported mosquito-borne, tickborne, and fleaborne, disease cases. From 2004 through 2016, seven new germs spread though the bite of an infected tick were discovered or recognized in the U.S. as being infectious to people.
Ticks live in shady, moist areas near ground level, clinging to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. Ticks cannot jump or fly and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact and, once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area. In tick-infested areas like Riverwoods, the best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation.
But, if you spend time outdoors hiking, gardening, walking a pet, or other activities, there are ways to protect yourself:
- Wear light-colored clothing that has a tight weave in order to more easily spot ticks.
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants that are tucked into socks or boots, and a long-sleeved shirt that’s tucked into pants.
- When outdoors, check clothes and exposed skin for ticks; when back indoors, check again
- Wear insect repellent.
- Stay on well-traveled trails and avoid contacting vegetation.
- Don’t sit directly on the ground or on a stone wall.
- Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
- Don’t leave bowls of dog or cat food outside.
- Protect pets with a recommended veterinary product.
- Before going inside, run a flea comb or brush through your pet’s coat, and consider having long-haired pets shaved down for the summer.
To remove a tick from the skin, use a tweezers to grasp the body near the skin surface and pull gently or use a piece of tissue to grasp the body and pull gently backwards.