• Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; do not touch except when cleaning.

• Stay healthy; the healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.

• Showers tend to be safer than taking baths, as bathtubs can harbor bacteria. If you bathe in a tub, clean it well before each use and rinse off the piercing when you get out.

Because this is an on-going epidemiological investigation, please contact the Winnebago County Health Department at (815) 720-4050 to report a recent history of ear piercing and symptoms at the site of the ear piercing. If a person has had an ear piercing and develops redness, swelling or pain following a piercing, especially of the upper ear, they should seek medical attention and should contact their local Health Department. There is still is a concern that there may be other cases in the community that have not been reported or adequately treated.

People living in Boone County may contact the Boone County Health Department at 815-544-2951. People living in Ogle County may contact Ogle County Health Department at 815-732-7330. Individuals living in Stephenson County may contact the Stephenson County Health Department at (815) 599-8429. People in Dekalb County may contact the Dekalb County Health Department at 815-748-2463.

For more information, go to www.wchd.org.