Cover up – It’s time for tick season
SUMMIT COUNTY – We may not have it as bad as the east coast or other regions of the United States, but ticks can still be dangerous in Summit County.
Tick activity peaks in the mountains by the end of May and early June, putting hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts at risk for illness.
The most common tick-bourne disease in the state is Colorado tick fever. Symptoms include fever, chills, severe headache, muscle pain and fatigue that begins three to five days after a tick bite.
The symptoms last three to four days, clear up for a day, then reappear for a few more days. Most people completely recover within three weeks, and there’s no treatment for the viral illness.
“We always have an increase in the number of tick fever cases reported in Colorado in (June),” said John Pape, an epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Every year, there’s about 200 reported cases of tick fever, but a large percentage go unreported, Pape said.
People who have symptoms of tick fever should see a doctor to insure it’s not a more serious illness.
Though Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease in the nation, is rare in Colorado, it shouldn’t be ruled out because it can lead to congestive heart failure and joint deformity. Lyme disease is carried by ticks the size of fleas and is characterized by a red bump that forms a circular pattern which can grow up to 50 cm.
Despite its name, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is not commonly reported in Colorado, along with tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever and tick paralysis.
An average of two to 10 cases of each disease are reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment annually.
To avoid ticks, wear light-
colored clothing (which makes it easier to see ticks) and use insect repellant with DEET, especially on ankles and legs. Tight collars and long pants can also prevent ticks from biting. Dogs and cats should wear tick repellent collars.
The best way to avoid illness is to look for ticks every couple of hours while in the mountains, focusing on the neck beneath the hair and behind the ears.
To remove a tick, pull it out with tweezers or fingers covered with tissue paper and wash the bite with soap and water. Ticks secrete a type of glue that holds them in place while feeding, but they will come out with steady pressure.
Using oil, fingernail polish remover or a match to remove a tick can cause it to regurgitate into the wound, increasing the risk of disease transmission.
It usually takes 24 hours or more before an infected tick can transmit enough bacteria or virus to cause illness, so finding ticks in time is the key to avoiding illness.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summit
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