A tick species native to the southeastern part of the United States has been found outside Chicago.
Three Gulf Coast ticks were located earlier this month in the Dunham Forest Preserve in Wayne, according to The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald. Wayne is roughly 40 miles west of Chicago.
The species is more likely than others to carry the pathogen causing Tidewater spotted fever, which could cause a headache, muscle aches and rash, among other things.
“Don’t be scared, be prepared. We don’t need to freak out," said Holly Tuten, vector ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey Medical Entomology Lab at the University of Illinois.
The ticks have previously found in more than a dozen Illinois counties, but in small numbers. Then last year 780 were found in Illinois after researchers found a new way of searching for them, Tuten told the newspaper.
However, only adults have been found, suggesting they might not be able to survive Illinois winters.
Experts said Gulf Coast ticks can be avoided in the same ways as other ticks. Experts recommend remaining on the center of nature trails and wearing protective clothing when in grassy areas.