Right now, ticks are out, so it’s a good time to check your clothing and yourself, and your pets if you’ve been out in the tall grass, brush, near streams, etc. We are most likely going to see the Rocky Mountain wood tick around our area of Montana. While this tick is gross, like all other ticks, one thing it doesn’t do is in Montana is vector Lyme disease. However, it can vector other diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever. Once again though, the transmission of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is rare in our state as most cases occur in the south Atlantic region of the country. Colorado tick fever is something that can occur in our state though. Symptoms of Colorado tick fever occur within a few days and include chills, headaches, fever, muscular ache, and general discomfort. Unfortunately, that sounds like a lot of different maladies, so please be careful and check for ticks after having been in any tick habitats.
|Photo courtesy of Colorado State University Extension|
If you want to try and repel ticks, or keep them out of clothing, there are a couple of recommendations. First, use a repellent like DEET or picaridin, especially on your pants and socks. Secondly, and it may look weird, but it works, tuck your pant legs into your socks when possible to create one more barrier to them crawling inside clothing.If you do find a tick on you, please listen to this next section carefully. There are some common folklore tick removal methods such as “backing out of the tick with a burning match” that should not be attempted. This method is not safe and doesn’t work. It is important to try to thoroughly remove the tick and the mouthparts. The tick has mouthparts which are barbed and used for insertion into the skin. If these break off, it can be a further source of irritation and possibly infection. Also, the crushing of the mouthparts can allow for disease transmission to occur through the skin if not removed properly. Place forceps (try to use blunt curved forceps or tweezers) around the tick mouthparts as close to the skin as possible. Remove the tick with a slow, steady pull away from the skin. Don’t jerk or twist the tick. Avoid getting or crushing any tick parts on you. Disinfect your skin with alcohol and wash your hands with soap and water.
May your spring and summer be tick free and more enjoyable because of it!