Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director, put out a notice today to remind residents that on their adventures outdoors that they should take precautions to guard against ticks and animal bites. Bites from ticks, bats, or wild animals could cause severe illness in both children and adults. She reminds residents that although there are medical treatments available for those who get infected tick bites and animal bites, residents can save themselves undo misery and money by protecting themselves from being bitten or scratched in the first place.
One way to protect yourself from tick bites is to wear over repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin, if you are in a heavily wooded area, walk in the center of trails so that leads to not brush against you. Ticks wait on the tips of grasses, weeds and shrubs for a moving person or animal to attach themselves too in order to feed by sucking blood, which usually take them several days. This is why ticks are very efficient carriers of diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tularemia, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. If you become ill with fever and/or rash after being in tick habitat contact your health care provider.
Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois, but any wild mammal can have rabies. The rabies virus is usually transmitted from animal to animal or animal to human through bites, opening of the skin or being spat at so that saliva gets directly into the eyes, nose, or mouth; as the rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of a rabid animal, The first sign of rabies is usually a change in the animal's behavior. Bats, for instance, that are seen during the day or those found in a place where bats are usually not found; as a room in your home, on your lawn, etc. or bats that are unable to fly are more likely to be infected than others. Bats, like all wild animals, should never be kept as pets or handled. If you find a bat in your home or any wild animal, do not release it until you have called your local health department or your animal control agency.
Some summer tips that will help ensure that you will not have to deal with the rabies virus include:
Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals or stray dogs or cats.
Do not allow pets to roam free.
Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Store bird seed or other animal feed in containers with tight-fitting lids. Make sure garbage cans are tightly capped and board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. And always cap chimneys with screens.