Reported Lyme disease cases have reached a record number this year in suburban Lake County.
So far this year 20 cases were reported, up from the previous record of 19 in 2011, and the Lake County Health Department is warning residents to be especially cautious of ticks.
"Ticks can transmit a number of serious illnesses, including Lyme disease, through a bite," Health Department Executive Director Tony Beltran said. "They live in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush, so it is important to use prevention measures including insect repellent when you are in such an environment, even if it is your own backyard."
Beltran said symptoms of Lyme disease could include "bull's-eye" rashes around the bite and flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue and muscle aches.
The symptoms may appear seven to 14 days after the bite, but the Health Department warns Lyme disease typically goes under-reported because some people may not see the rash. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Residents are urged to keep their grass mowed around their home and playground equipment, minimize wood piles, wear light-colored and protective clothing, and apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothes or exposed skin. Outdoor pets also should be checked for ticks.
If you come into contact with a tick, the Health Department advises to grab the head of the tick with tweezers and pull it upward with slow, even pressure. Twisting or pulling it quickly could force the mouth parts to break off, leaving the insect in the skin.
Contact your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms seven days or more after a tick bite.
More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year, but the CDC suspects the actual number is closer to 300,000.
- ILADS.org: International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society