New pathogen carrying tick takes up residence in Illinois

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Photo credit: Emily Struckhoff, INHS Medical Entomology Lab

Researchers have now found that the Gulf Coast tick is taking up residence in Illinois.

Illinois Natural History Survey and Southern Illinois University have also found that the tick has a “pathogen that can make people sick.” The tick most likely made its way to Illinois through migratory birds.

The tick has now been documented in 14 counties across Illinois and with the state’s average winter temperature rising, it could “become hospitable to the Gulf Coast tick.”

57 percent of the Gulf Coast ticks tested had positive results for Rickettsia parkeri, a human pathogen that causes Tidewater spotted fever. The illness causes fever, muscle aches, headaches, and a rash.

INHS is still conducting research on the Gulf Coast tick in Illinois, but for now they are working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to warn Illinoisans to look out for ticks.

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