PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As outdoor enthusiasts head out to the trails and woods, there’s a pest they may want to watch out for, ticks.
Kelsey Ernst is a Forest Park Nature Center Naturalist. She said there are certain spots where the creatures are more prevalent.
“They hang out in really tall grassy areas and really dense woody areas. So, for example, if you go off the trail and there’s a lot of leaf litter or if you go off the trail in a prairie area, places like that, that’s where they primarily hang out,” said Ernst.
Sara Sparkman from the Tazewell County Health Department said aside from sucking blood and being a nuisance to humans, ticks can also be a health hazard by carrying diseases. The department has already confirmed cases this month of both Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Both diseases are commonly carried by ticks.
“If you have that red rash, that is a sign of Lyme Disease, and we are encouraging people to go to their healthcare provider to receive medication for treatment for that. Rocky Mountain Spotted fever is a little bit different. You will get a severe headache. You can get some vomiting, nausea, and fatigue with that,” Sparkman said.
These diseases can become very serious and do require immediate medical attention. Staying on the trail during a hike, covering bare skin, some insect repellants, and checking yourself and others after being outdoors can help prevent tick bites from occurring.
Once one latches on, be sure to be careful when removing it.
“What we encourage people to do is use tweezers, fine point tweezers, and just get close to the head of the tick as you can, [and] just pull straight out. Don’t twist. Just make sure you’re pulling that tick straight out,” said Sparkman.