Local doctors say be wary of disease carrying ticks when outdoors

By WEEK Reporter

July 5, 2014 Updated Jul 5, 2014 at 10:18 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Campers know them well--the dreaded ticks.

"It's easy for them to get attached, and you don't even feel them," said veteran camper Nate Nollen.

"They're very small bugs, and they can climb up under your clothing," said camper Laura Bransetter. "Nice warms spots is what they like, and even on your hair and scalp."

The little insects can cause a lot of pain.

"Lyme disease is a bacteria that's carried by predominantly the deer tick," said Dr. Matthew Jackson who has treated many patients with the disease in his time as an ER doctor at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. "It's a pretty nasty disease that can cause anything from arthritis to neurological complications to cardiac complications."

Experts say ticks thrive in small grasses and woody areas, making certain parts of Peoria the perfect breeding ground for ticks and disease.

However, these veteran campers know exactly what to do.

"The insects have been pretty bad this time with ticks," said Nollen. "So, we try to wear hats to keep the ticks off our heads."

"We're very conscientious about checking them in the evening to make sure they don't have bugs on them and we have bug spray," said Bransetter.

The more covered up you are--the better. However, if the bug bites, and you do not see a doctor--you will probably get a symptomatic rash.

"It's the blotchy-like rash that looks like a bulls-eye," said Dr. Jackson. "70-80% of people who have it have that. That--along with generalized malaise, not feeling well. If you have those symptoms--call your doctor."

An antibiotic will help if taken early, but doctors say prevention is the best medicine.