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Tick Population Grows in Southern Illinois

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Bug experts say they're seeing an increase in the number of ticks crawling around Illinois this summer.

Several species of the blood-sucking bugs are found in the state, but entomologists tell the Belleville News-Democrat that they've seen a particular rise in the American dog tick this year. The species can host the Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Meanwhile, the Lone Star tick has been spotted in portions of southern Illinois. The pest also carries the disease, along with the rare Heartland virus.

Authorities say they're not sure what's prompted in the increase in the bugs, which can live to be several years old.  But some factors may include last year's warm summer, the mild winter, or strong populations of other animals that provide food for the critters.

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