IDPH releases tips on minimizing risk of tick bites, rabies

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Public Health officials are reminding central Illinois residents about taking precautions against tick and other animal bites.

According to IDPH Director Nirav Shah, M.D., J.D., ticks can carry several diseases, such as Lyme disease and tularemia.  Shah also says to use caution around wild animals, as some animal can transmit serious diseases and even rabies.

Public Health officials are offering the following tips to help minimize your chances of being bitten by a tick:

- Wear light-colored, protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots or sturdy shoes and a head covering.
- Apply insect repellant containing 10 percent to 30 percent DEET primarily to clothes.
- Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you.
- Check yourself, children, other family members and pets for ticks every two to three hours.

If you are bitten by a tick, officials say to grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out.  Officials also say you should wash your hands and the tick bite site with soap and water.  If you develop a rash or fever after being in an area where ticks are known to be, contact your health provider.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is also offering the following tips to avoid diseases from wild animal bites, such as rabies:

- Teach your children to never handle unfamiliar animals.
- Make sure your pets have up-to-date vaccinations
- If you find a bat in your home, do not released it until you have called your local health department.

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