ST. JOSEPH COUNTY -

We are in the heart of tick season, and doctors are encouraging us to take steps to avoid being bitten.

An infected tick could carry Lyme Disease, which begins with a rash and can spread to joints, your heart and your nervous system.

A lot of people are afraid of Lyme Disease, but doctors say for most people, it's treated with antibiotics and is a short-term illness.

To avoid it completely, doctors say avoid areas with ticks, and if you are around them, wear long sleeves and long pants, do a body check and have someone else look at your back and neck.

The faster you get the tick out, the better chance you will avoid Lyme Disease.

"If you have a tick bite, the most important thing is to remove the tick promptly," said Dr. Dale Patterson of Family Medicine. "It usually takes about 24 hours of having a tick attached to actually spread the disease to a person, so you want to remove the tick totally. So, grab it by the head with tweezers and then pull it out, including all the mouth parts, and get it removed as soon as possible."

If you develop a rash, see a doctor right away to get started on antibiotics. The rash will look like a bullseye.

It starts as redness right around the bite and then spreads to leave a white center, like a bulleye.

Dr. Patterson says he see a number of cases every year in St. Joseph County, usually in kids.