LAKE FOREST — A larger than normal tick population in the area around McCormick Ravine near Lake Michigan in southeast Lake Forest has forced McCormick Day Camp to move its location for the summer.
The camp will shift locations to Northcroft Park on Ridge Road just south of Old Elm Road for the summer, according to a presentation by Sally Swarthout, the city’s director of parks, recreation, forestry and cemetery, at a Lake Forest City Council meeting June 5 at City Hall.
Swarthout informed the aldermen and Mayor Rob Lansing she learned about the increase when Lake County officials took a survey. She said of the 350 ticks tested, 40 percent potentially carried Lyme Disease.
“I found out in April and have been itching ever since,” said Swarthout as she opened her presentation. “Tick season runs from spring through fall. They live by grassy areas in the middle of the woods.”
McCormick Ravine will not be closed to the public, though it is still undergoing the end of a renovation project under the auspices of Lake Forest Open Lands Association, according to Swarthout. She said the camp will be moved. She also gave information and cautions to those at the meeting.
“We hope we can bring the camp back to McCormick Ravine by next summer,” said Swarthout. “The parents and everyone were very understanding. We want to be very careful.”
There are two types of ticks, according to Swarthout; deer ticks and wood ticks. She said deer ticks can carry Lyme Disease, and they can be transported from their natural habitat by animals and ultimately land on people.
“Though they are called deer ticks they are typically carried by small mammals,” said Swarthout.
Lyme Disease is potentially dangerous, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website. If untreated, it can affect joints, the heart and the nervous system. It can usually be effectively treated with antibiotics.
The increase of the tick population is cyclical, according to John Sentell, president and CEO of Lake Forest Open Lands Association. He said variations in seasonal temperatures may be the reason for the bump.
“It’s a blip in nature, which will take its course,” said Sentell.
Swarthout cautioned people to wear light colored clothing when venturing into ravine and trail areas. She said wooded areas with high grass should be avoided. People should stay on the trails. Clothes should be tucked in and repellant used on both skin and apparel.
“It should have DEET and be stronger than basic Off,” said Swarthout.
The strongest advice Swarthout gave was to “stay calm.” She said they might not be noticed for 24 hours. The area should be treated with disinfectant, the tick removed with a tweezers pulling straight up, bagging the insect and then disinfecting the area on the skin again. She gave instructions on the disposition of the tick.
“Put it in a (plastic zipper-style) bag so you can take it to the doctor for testing if there’s an infection,” said Swarthout.
If there is an infection, it will surface within two to three days but could take a month, according to Swarthout. She said there will be a rash looking like a bullseye, and possible headaches, vomiting or muscle soreness. Her advice if that happens is simple.
“Go to the doctor,” said Swarthout.
Council Approves Police Pay Hike
In other business, the council unanimously approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with the Metropolitan Alliance of Police representing the city’s officers with a 2.5 percent pay increase the first year and additional hikes in subsequent years.
“Our budget provides for a 2.5 percent increase so we’re covered on that,” City Manager Robert Kiely Jr. said after the meeting.
The pact also provides for potential renegotiation in the event of a property tax freeze or pension adjustments made by the State of Illinois, according to a presentation made by DeSha Kalmar, the city’s director of human resources.