Experts warn of surge in tick population in Illinois

Summer is just about here, and it is shaping up to be a buggy one when it comes to ticks and Lyme disease.

If you plan on golfing this summer or swimming at the beach or taking a walk through the woods, it’s not what you want to hear.

"Yes, this could be quite a bad tick year," said Holly Tuten of the Illinois Natural History Survey. "We have several factors indicating that. We have factors indicating Lyme might be more prevalent in the tick population."

Tuten is a tick tracker, and says state surveys are showing a tick surge in the Chicago area this year. Especially the Blacklegged or Deer Tick which carries Lyme disease.

"Which means when you come back in, make sure you do a tick check," said Dr. Casey Kelley of Case Integrative Health. "Look in all the crevices, behind your ears, under your armpits where these ticks can hide, in your hair as well. And remove them as soon as possible."

Experts also advise trying not to brush up against vegetation where the little bloodsuckers are waiting to leap. Also use EPA certified repellents, and pyrethrin on your clothing. And tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants.

"It’s hard for us sometimes to realize how small some of these ticks can be," Tuten said. "We’re talking about something on the level of a period at the end of the sentence."

And if you find a tick on your body pull it out, but don’t throw it away.

"Save the tick. Send the tick in for testing," said Kelley. "You can send a tick, it takes a couple days to get the test results back and they can test for multiple different infections."


There are also all sorts of tick species in Illinois. 

Some will even stick around in the short grass, maybe in your backyard or a field near your child's school.

Ticks can also sense your temperature and body heat as well as the carbon dioxide that you are breathing out to know when you are close by.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back outside.