Protect your family from ticks and Lyme disease

Protect your family from ticks and Lyme disease

Just about everyone enjoys summer – including ticks. The parasitic arachnid is most active between April and September, typically feeding off the blood of mammals. Ticks are usually found in wooded areas but can also live in bushy or grassy spaces.

Protecting your family from tick bites is an essential part of summer safety, as they can cause allergic reactions and spread diseases, including Lyme disease.

“Symptoms of Lyme disease typically begin with fever, headache and target-like rash but can spread to other parts of the body, including the heart, brain, nervous system, muscles and joints,” explains Dr. Leah Phillippi, a pediatrician with Aurora Health Care. “Lyme disease can even lead to arthritis, meningitis and heart complications. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites.”

She offers the following tips to help protect against tick bites:

  • Avoid areas that are appealing to ticks, including wooded, bushy areas or spaces with tall grass or leaf pileups.
  • Walk in the center of trails and other tick-friendly spaces, such as forest preserves.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, socks and closed-toe shoes. Be sure to tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellents with at least 20 percent DEET on children older than 2 years. When applying to children, avoid their eyes, mouth and hands.

“Early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease helps prevent late Lyme disease and the many complications that can occur,” Dr. Phillippi says. “After spending time outdoors, check yourself and your family for ticks. If a tick has attached itself to you or your child, prompt removal is key. Carefully remove the tick by grasping its head or mouth with tweezers. Once removed, disinfect the bite site. Monitor the individual for symptoms. If you notice any symptoms, call your physician or your child’s pediatrician.”

Are you trying to find a doctor? Find one in Illinois or Wisconsin. 

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.