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Watch out for ticks

Watch out for ticks

A recent alert from the Wyoming Department of Health has shown a pretty significant increase in cases of Colorado tick fever in some parts of Wyoming this year.

Colorado tick fever is spread through the bites of infected ticks. The symptoms usually develop one to 14 days after the bite and may include fever, chills, headache, body aches and feeling tired. About half of infected people may have a fever for a few days, feel better for several days, and then have another period of fever and illness. While symptoms can last for several weeks, most people do not experience severe illness.

Some of the symptoms of Colorado tick fever mimic those of other illnesses, including COVID-19, so talk to your healthcare provider if you think you may have been bitten by a tick. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Colorado tick fever, and the best way to prevent it is to reduce the risk of tick bites.

  • Use insect repellent, such as DEET
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Treat outdoor clothing, such as hiking clothing, with an insecticide containing the ingredient permethrin
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass
  • Do tick checks after spending time outdoors
  • Clear brush, tall grass and leaf litter from yards to reduce the number of ticks
  • Prevent tick bites in pets by using prevention products recommended by veterinarians

Courtney Tillman, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, advises people not to jerk or twist a tick if they find one embedded on themselves or a pet. Instead they should use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the surface as possible and steadily pull the tick upward. Then clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Dr. Nathan Tracey is a board-certified family medicine physician at the Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine clinic in Gillette, Wyoming. The clinic offers healthcare for people of all ages, from pediatric to seniors. Learn more at www.cchwyo.org/family.