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Lone Star Tick established in Bureau County

Jun 14, 2024 | Bureau County, News | 0 comments

During May of 2024, a sufficient number of Lone Star Ticks were collected near Mineral for the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum, to now be considered “established” in Bureau County. As part of Bureau County Health Department’s Tick Surveillance Program, ticks are collected via a method called “tick dragging” and submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health for final identification as well as testing for disease causing pathogens. Pathogen testing results are still pending at the time of this press release. Statewide tick surveillance data may be viewed at

Lone Star Ticks are named as such for the white dot or “lone star” in the middle of the back of adult females. Unlike other ticks, Lone Star Ticks are relatively fast runners and will pursue humans from several feet away. IDPH tests submitted Lone Star Ticks for the bacterium which cause Ehlichiosis. Other diseases, such as Heartland Virus, are also known to be transmitted by Lone Star Ticks, but studies have shown that it does not transmit Lyme Disease, which is the most common vector borne illness in the United States. A more well-known consequence associated with a Lone Star Tick bite is the possibility of developing Alpha-gal syndrome, where an allergy to red meat and other products made from mammals occurs in humans.

“The public is urged to take precautions to avoid tick bites during outdoor activities.” said Hector Gomez, Bureau, Putnam & Marshall County Health Department Administrator, “Ticks can transit several different diseases which can lead to serious illness, death, or life-long neurological conditions.”

Tips to Avoid Tick Bites

  • Wear light colored clothing when outdoors so that ticks may be easily seen.
  • Always check yourself thoroughly for ticks after outdoor activities such as hunting, gathering, hiking, and even gardening.
  • Check children for ticks.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks.
  • Apply Permethrin to outer clothing worn in tick habitats, especially shoes and pants as ticks are mostly found in leaf litter and on vegetation from the knee area and down. Permethrin has very low mammalian toxicity, but ticks exposed to Permethrin become incapacitated and eventually die.
  • Tuck socks and pants into boots and long-sleeved shirts into pants. Ticks crawl up, not down, while looking for a place to attach. The longer they are on clothing, the greater your chances of finding them or the tick becoming incapacitated due to exposure to permethrin treated clothing.
  • Placing clothing and gear in a dryer on high heat for at least 6 minutes immediately after returning from the outdoors will kill ticks.
  • DEET insect repellent may be applied to skin as a secondary defense against tick bites.
  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid leaf litter and vegetation which will harbor more ticks.

If You Find a Tick Attached to You

  • Remove any attached ticks immediately. Use a fine tipped tweezer and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight up with steady even pressure. Do not apply heat, Vaseline or use any other methods which can make the tick regurgitate disease carrying fluid into its host. Illustrated instructions can be found here.
  • Seal the tick in a container and call Bureau, Putnam, and Marshall County Health Departments at 815 872-5091. We will want to identify the tick and discuss symptoms of disease that may appear.

Because ticks are small, especially nymph life-staged ticks, many people who contract a disease do not recall being bitten by a tick. People should familiarize themselves with the symptoms of tickborne disease and self-monitor for those symptoms after venturing into tick habitats. Early treatment is key to avoiding severe outcomes and long-term complications.

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