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Don’t Let a Tick Make You Sick

What is a tick?

Ticks are small bugs that are related to spiders. Like spiders, they have 8 legs, but they don't spin webs like spiders do. There are many kinds of ticks that can make you sick, but the most common tick in Illinois that can make you sick is the blacklegged tick (also called a deer tick). Blacklegged ticks are so tiny they can be mistaken for a freckle or a speck of dirt on your skin.

Where do ticks live?

Ticks live close to the ground where there is tall grass, shrubs, and leaves. They wait on tips of tall grass and shrubs and grab on to an animal or human when they walk by. You may come in close contact with ticks when doing outdoor activities in areas ticks live, such as camping, hiking, fishing, mushroom hunting, or walking your dog.

What do ticks eat?

Unlike spiders that get their food from eating bugs, ticks get their food from drinking blood from the animals and humans they bite. Tick bites don’t usually hurt, so most people don’t notice when they have been bitten.

Can a tick bite make me sick?

Tick bites can make people sick, but there are some things you can do to decrease your chances of getting sick after a tick bite.

What do I do if I see a tick on me?

Tell your parents or another adult right away. They can use tweezers to pull the tick off. Once the tick is removed, be sure to wash the area of the bite with soap and water or disinfectant.

What if I get sick after a tick bite?

If you get a fever, skin rash, headache, sore muscles or feel really tired up to 30 days after a tick bite or being in an area where ticks live, tell your parents. They should call your doctor to see if you need to be tested for a tick illness and if you need medicine.

How can I keep ticks away from me?

When you go outside, wear insect repellant that has DEET and stay out of wooded areas and places with tall grass and weeds where ticks live.

If you go where ticks live, wear long sleeves and long pants and tuck your pants in your socks and walk in the center of trails. When you come back inside, take a bath or shower and let your parents check you for ticks.

Your pets can also get ticks, so always check them when they come in from outside.

Where to Check for Ticks

  • In and around the hair
  • In and around the ears
  • Under the arms
  • Inside the belly button
  • Around the waist
  • Between the legs
  • Back of the knees

Where to Check Your Pet for Ticks

  • In and around the ears
  • Around the eyelids
  • Under the collar
  • Under the front legs
  • Between the back legs
  • Between the toes
  • Around the tail