Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Lyme Disease Alert

The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, on human host.

During spring l997, INHS entomologist John Bouseman and Survey affiliate Dr. Jeffrey Nelson found blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, in Carroll, Grundy, and Will counties in northern Illinois that were infected with the causative agent of Lyme disease. Although the researchers had been aware of blacklegged tick populations in Carroll County since l990 and in Grundy and Will counties since l99l, and had been monitoring the populations over the intervening years for the Lyme disease spirochete, the l997 investigations provided the first positive evidence of the Lyme disease agent in ticks in those counties. This evidence resulted from the successful laboratory culturing of the spirochete. Prior to those discoveries, blacklegged ticks positive for the Lyme disease agent were known in Illinois only from Ogle and Rock Island counties. In addition to finding infected ticks, the researchers noted larger populations of the ticks in the three counties.

The increase in tick numbers and the spread in the known range of infected ticks, especially on the threshold of the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area in the case of Grundy and Will counties, is a matter of concern.

Illinoisans engaged in outdoor work and recreation are reminded to take precautions against tick bites. Anyone wishing to submit ticks for identification should send them in alcohol to John Bouseman at the address below.

John K. Bouseman
Illinois Natural History Survey
607 E. Peabody Drive
Champaign, IL 61820

John K. Bouseman, Center for Economic Entomology, and Jeffrey A. Nelson, M.D., Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

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