Illinois sees growing number of Lyme disease cases - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois sees growing number of Lyme disease cases

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In spring 2007 Rockford resident Jesica Leitzen was your ordinary college student attending Eastern Illinois University. She was studying for midterms, but suddenly began to feel ill.

"I came home from class one day because I felt really weird almost flu-like," said Leitzen.

Leitzen says she was constantly throwing up, had chills and was in pain. It wasn't until her parents brought her to a family doctor that she learned she had Lyme disease.

"I wasn't going in the woods, I wasn't camping at that point," said Leitzen. "I was just walking to and from class."

Lyme disease is an infection transmitted by a tick bite. Ticks are about the size of your pinky nail and they are not easily detected.

"This is definitely the time of the year where people can be bitten by ticks, especially being out in forest preserves and enjoying nature," said Terri Howard, Winnebago County Health Department Vector Control Specialist.

Year after year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to see a climb in Lyme disease cases. In 2010 the CDC reported 135 cases of Lyme disease in Illinois compared to 337 confirmed cases in 2013.

But the Winnebago County Health Department says there are ways you can protect yourself.

"Wear light clothing so that you will be able to see any signs of ticks on your clothes, tuck in your shirts and then tuck their pants into their boots or socks," said Howard. "Wear an insect repellent that contains DEET or any other insect repellent that is registered with the EPA."

Leitzen says her case was caught early enough so she does not have lingering effects, but now she says she's extra cautious and is doing what she can to warn others.

"Just make sure you are watching, it's not just the flu if you are feeling that way," said Leitzen. "Make sure you find out.

The Winnebago County Health Department also says to check your pets for ticks after they've been outside.

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