Health officials warn: The Bugs Are Coming!

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Summer is just around the corner and for most, that means spending time outside. It also means dealing with annoying insects – some of which carry diseases that can send you to the doctor’s office.

Beth Parentice sprays insect repellent on herself to protect her before she heads out onto the wooded trails in Sinnissippi Park.

“Well, it’s always important to be prepared, as soon as the grass turns green,” she said.

Spring is here — but so are the mosquitos and the ticks that carry West Nile and Lyme disease.

“We see those a lot more often,” said Dr. Amanda Miller, an ER physician at Swedish American Hospital.

Dr. Miller has been an ER physician for 11 years and says that one of the main things she looks for, when inspecting a patient for Lyme disease, is a tell-tale bullseye rash.

“A lot of times, people come in with a bullseye rash that they’re concerned about,” she said. “The bullseye rash sometimes is not found. For example, if you have a tick in your scalp, you will not see the bullseye rash that’s found there, because the rash happens directly around the bite itself.”

Dr. Miller also says patients typically have anywhere from 12 to 36 hours to remove a tick before Lyme disease settles in.

“Number one, do not put a match to it, because then you have a burn on top of a tick that’s still in your skin,” she said. “So, you want to turn it counter-clockwise with some tweezers, about three rotations, because ticks naturally burrow into your skin in a clockwise rotation.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports Lyme disease cases have increased over the past few years, from 135 cases in 2010 to 237 in 2016.

Ryan Kerch, Supervisor of Environmental Health said, “I know it’s hard sometimes, in the hot days of summer, but wearing long pants and long sleeves, especially if you’re walking through the woods. If you are on a hike or something outside, sticking to paths, making sure you’re not walking through tall grass, as those are the areas where you are most likely to pick those ticks up.”

The Winnebago County Health Department will also have their annual tire drive on Saturday, June 9th which is in an effort to help lower the amount of mosquitos carrying the West Nile Virus. Mosquitos breed in the stagnant water that can collect inside old tires that lie around.

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