Tick Season in Montana: Protecting You and Your Pets
Just seeing a picture of a tick gives me the heebie-jeebies. Those nasty little critters literally make my skin crawl. Springtime is tick time in Montana and they love the weather we've been enjoying lately. As you head out to the rivers, parks and woods, make sure you are checking your pets and yourself for ticks.
Ticks like grassy, brushy, wooded areas like river bottoms. They do not drop down out of trees or jump or fly. They just sit and wait for a warm blooded creature to wander by then they latch on with their eight sticky little legs and start crawling up your body. You probably won't even notice them creeping up your leg, searching for just the right spot to latch on to your skin and start sucking blood.
Ticks in Montana can carry a number of nasty diseases, including:
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
- Colorado Tick Fever
- Tularemia (commonly known as "rabbit fever")
- Tick-borne relapsing fever
Montana FW&P's offers a number of tick resources on its website, including ways to prevent ticks. Some of their advice includes:
- Wearing light-colored clothing so you can see them crawling on you easier.
- Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent them from crawling up the inside of your pant legs.
- Applying insect repellent that contains DEET on your exposed skin and/or applying repellents containing permethrin that can be sprayed on boots and clothing, and will last for several days.
- Closely examine your entire body when you return home, including spots that ticks particularly enjoy, including: your hair, waistline, armpits and behind the ears.
- The MT Department of Health and Human Services recommends this simple way to get rid of ticks on your clothing: when you get home, toss your clothes in the dryer on "hot" for at least 10 minutes. Since you'll be naked at that point, get in front of mirror and carefully check your body.
- Don't forget to check your pets. Ticks like the same type of areas on pets as they do humans. Neck, ears, underbelly, etc.
Thinking about wearing a dog tick collar around your neck or ankles? DON'T DO IT. A report conducted by the US Army Public Health Center states:
Soldiers who wear pet flea and tick collars next to their skin or over their uniforms risk severe skin reactions and other adverse health effects. There is no evidence that wearing pet flea and tick collars in any manner will prevent bites from sand flies, mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks.
Get out and enjoy our outdoors this spring, but be tick aware. If you do find a tick already attached to your body, here is the best way to remove it (don't use the petroleum jelly trick). Experts say you should keep the tick (like in a little jar or something?) in case you become ill, that way you can give it to your health professional if necessary.
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