(Gillette, Wyo.) With the warm weather, it is only natural to want to go out and enjoy the sunshine. By all means do! As a precaution, though, keep in mind the very real existence of Ticks in our natural habitats.
Ticks pose a very real risk to travelers in the great outdoors as these insects carry potentially serious diseases, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH). Diseases such as Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and Colorado tick fever (CTF) can be passed to humans from these nasty little buggers.
“Spring and summer months are typically the peak months for Wyoming’s tick populations” explained Dr. Alexia Harrist, Public Health Sciences Section chief and State epidemiologist with the WDH. “Tick Exposure is common when we walk through, play, or sit in brushy and grassy areas, or handle certain animals.”
CTF usually causes fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and the occasional rash. Early RMSF symptoms include fever, vomiting, nausea, lack of appetite, muscle pain and severe headaches. Later symptoms may include rash, abdominal and joint pain, and diarrhea. Tularemia can cause fevers, swollen and inflamed lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, skin ulcers, and diarrhea. More often than not, RMSF and Tularemia patients require hospitalization.
Also known as “deer fly fever” or “rabbit fever, Tularemia often affects rabbits, hares, and other rodents. The disease has been associated with the massive rabbit population reduction over the years. Humans may become infected when bit by deer flies, horse flies, or by infected ticks. As mentioned prior, Tularemia could potentially be transmitted by handling infected animals; however, it can also be transmitted via ingestion with untreated contaminated water or under cooked meat.
“We often get questions about other tick-related illnesses such as Lyme disease or Powassan disease” Harrist spoke. “While those illnesses can be a concern when you travel out of state, they are not known to be spread in Wyoming”.
General precautions to take to reduce your chance of catching a tick-related diseases include:
-Wearing light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks crawling on clothing.
-Tucking your pant legs into your socks.
-Apply insect repellents such as those containing 20% or more DEET and/or Picaradin.
-Upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, search yourself and your children thoroughly for ticks and remove them if they are found.
-Check your pets for ticks; use tick control products recommended by veterinarians.
For more information on CTF click here.
For more information on RMSF, click here.
For more information on Tularemia, click here.