Protect against ticks this summer
As campers and hikers head into the High Country this summer, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment warns them to take precautions against ticks.
The little black bugs typically wait on the ground for animals and people to walk by, then latch on and look for a place to feed on blood through the skin.
The two best ways to guard against Colorado tick fever is to apply insect repellent, especially on ankles and legs, and to conduct tick checks several times a day over the entire body including the head.
Once a tick latches on, it takes an hour for the bug to embed itself into the skin. It takes 24 hours or more of feeding before an infected tick can transmit enough of a disease organism to cause illness.
Symptoms of Colorado tick fever, a viral disease, appear three to five days after the bite occurs. Fever, chills, severe headache, muscle pain and fatigue last several days, clear up for a day, then reappear for a few more days, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s John Pape.
The end of May and the month of June are prime tick season in the High Country, Pape said. Ticks typically hang out on sunny, southern slopes of hills and in areas with grass and low-brush vegetation.
If recreationists find a tick latched onto their skin, there is no need to panic, Pape said. The tick can be removed using tweezers or fingers covered with tissue paper.
Grasp the tick where it has entered the skin and slowly and firmly pull it out with a rolling motion from front to back. Avoid twisting or jerking the tick, Pape said. Wash the bite with soap and water.
If the tick has worked its way into the ear or another sensitive body area, consult a physician about removal.
Other methods of tick removal, such as using oil, fingernail polish remover or the heat from a match, are not recommended because they might cause the tick to regurgitate into the wound, increasing the risk of disease transmission, Pape said.
Pape also warned against overapplying insect repellent, especially on children.
There is no need to avoid the mountains or to curtail outdoor activities because of ticks, Pape said, but people should take recommended precautions.
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