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Tick Season is here

watch out for ticksAs summer is fast approaching it will soon be tick season here in the West. While the Rocky Mountains don’t have nearly as much trouble with ticks as the Northeastern states and the Northern West coast, we still have them. My Grandfather spent two weeks in the hospital after contracting Lyme disease from a tick he picked up here in Colorado. So while the threat is less in the Rockies, it’s still something hikers should be aware of, and check for, during the warmer months.

We usually do a “tick check” upon returning from each outing. It’s nothing more than a quick once-over just to make sure we haven’t picked one up. I have had three ticks attached to me on three separate occasions. I also used three different methods of extracting the tick, and only one was the correct method. Once I used tweezers with the head left inside me, although I never got sick. Another time I burned the tick and it did back out and the final time I poured Alcohol on the tick and that also caused it to back out. I once went with a friend to the doctors to extract a tick he had in his leg. The doctor used tweezers and pulled the tick out, with success. If you go to the doctor, they will use the tweezer extraction method as this is the most commonly accepted method for safe extraction.

If you look on any number of sites as to how to avoid ticks, they’ll suggest things like “stay out of grassy areas” or “walk on trails only”. Well… if you’re out most weekends like we are, that’s not a possibility. Our tips for keeping ticks off you are:

  • Wear long pants and shirts when possible
  • Stay out of deep bushes as much as you can
  • Check your clothes after you exist bushy areas
  • Do a quick full body “tick check” after each trip

Most often when someone is bitten by a tick, nothing happens. However if you do manage to contract Lyme disease some of the symptoms you might experience are:

Fever
Headache
Chills
Body-twitching
Muscle Pain
Red area around the bite

If you do experience any of these symptoms, get yourself to a doctor right away. They can provide a treatment plan which will consist of multiple cycles of antibiotics. In rare cases, such as my grandfathers, hospitalization may be required. That’s not the norm. As long as you take a little extra precaution and do a quick “tick check” after outings, you’ll likely prevent any ticks from latching on.