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More Dogs Infected by Tick-Borne Diseases

Springtime means warmer weather and more insects, including ticks.

In fact, in 2013 there were more than 335 cases of Lyme disease in Illinois. Health officials say that number may grow even larger this year.

Running, playing, and taking your dog for a walk all make you, your children, and your pets susceptible to getting a tick-borne disease.

"We have to start worrying about them already. I've already seen ticks on myself, so I know it's a problem already," said state public health veterinarian Connie Austin.

Ticks, primarily found in low-lying grass and wooded areas, can attach themselves almost anywhere on your body. If not found, they could feed off you for weeks, or worse, infect you with a disease.

"One that is across all of central Illinois is the American Dog Tick. Lyme disease, the tick that causes that is the Black Legged Tick, and that is starting to move down from northern Illinois to central Illinois, so we have to worry about that one," said Austin.

Ticks may be easier to spot on yourself, but not so much on your furry friends. According to a new report, ticks that carry Lyme disease are infecting more dogs.

"A lot of the tick diseases present in a similar way," said White Oaks West Veterinarian Brianne Mclaughlin. "Fever is common so you don't really notice dogs, because their basic temperature is warmer than ours anyways, but they can tend to not eat as well. A lot of times they are just not feeling as well, or are active with their owners."

Although there are veterinary products that can prevent your dog from tick-borne diseases, they don't protect you.

"They carry bacteria that is diunotic, which means it is transmissible to humans, kids, adults and can cause significant disease in us as well," said Mclaughlin.

If your pets are protected, Mclaughlin says the likelihood that you will be infected through ticks carried on your pets is very low. But local health officials say you should always be on the lookout.

"Try to stay out of areas where ticks are present, wear deet in areas where there will be a lot of ticks, and always do tick checks," said Austin.

It is often that tick bites go unnoticed. But for Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease, you will notice a red skin rash as well as achy joints and a fever.

If you do get bit by a tick, you will want to seek medical attention right away.

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