Avoid pesky ticks this summer

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What is the best way to remove a tick from your skin?

A) Burn it with a match

B) Cover it with petroleum jelly or nail polish

C) Remove it with tweezers

D) Remove it with your fingers

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the American Academy of Family Physicians agree that the best way to remove a tick is C. The tick should be grasped firmly with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. It should be pulled upward gently and firmly without twisting or jerking it.

Ticks are often mistaken as being insects, but they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders, and mites. They are among the most efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly, and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding.

When searching for a meal, ticks position themselves on the tips of grasses and shrubs, not on trees. When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go and climb onto the body. Ticks cannot fly or jump. They can only crawl. Ticks found on the scalp have usually crawled there from lower parts of the body.

According to IDPH, there are at least 15 species of ticks in Illinois, but only a few are likely to be encountered by people. These include the following:

American Dog Tick

They feed on humans and medium-to-large mammals. They can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases.

Lone Star Tick

They primarily are found in the southern half of Illinois. They are most active from April through July and can transmit bacterial diseases in humans.

Blacklegged Tick

Also known as the deer tick, they feed on animals and people. They are found in wooded areas along trails. They can transmit Lyme disease, a bacterial infection.

Brown Dog Tick

They usually attach around the ears or between the toes of dogs and rarely bite people.

Winter Tick

They feed on large mammals, but are not known to transmit disease to humans.