Ticks and even worse, tick-borne diseases can put a real damper on your summer fun. While ticks in Wyoming do not currently carry lyme disease, they do carry a host of other diseases to be aware of. When dealing with ticks, precaution is the most effective methods of ensuring a tick-free season. Tick-borne disease are not just a human concern, they can also affect pets as well. Unfortunately, cases of tick paralysis in dogs have already been diagnosed in Teton County this year. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks to your pets and what you can do to prevent illness.
Spotting a Tick
Prior to feeding, ticks have a teardrop or flattened oval shaped body, while after feeding, ticks become plump with a rounded body. Ticks do not have any wings or antennae but do have six legs (young ticks) and a total of eight legs once they have fully matured.
Tick-Borne Diseases in Teton County
Ticks present in Teton County have the potential to carry diseases such as Colorado Tick Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or Tularemia.
Colorado Tick Fever Symptoms
Fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and, occasionally, a rash.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms
Initial symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and/or a severe headache. As RMSF progresses, symptoms may include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain, and/or diarrhea.
Fever, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, skin ulcers, and/or diarrhea.
Tips to Avoid Ticks
The chances of coming in contact with ticks in Teton County are highest durning our summer months, specifically May, June, and July and while you are navigating through tall grasses or brush or while handling certain animals.
To minimize your exposure:
- Tuck pant legs into socks.
- Use insect repellents containing 20 percent or more DEET and/or picaridin. (Interested in learning more about DEET, view Jackson Hole News& Guide’s 2018 article on DEET).
- Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks crawling on clothing.
- Always do a full tick-check after hiking or being outdoors in an area that is known for ticks.
- After coming inside, promptly put clothing in a high-heat dryer for at least ten minutes to help kill any ticks that might be hiding in clothing.
Ticks Around the Country
Recent reports indicate that Lyme disease is increasing in prevalence and expanding to new areas throughout the country, especially along the east coast. Due to difficult tracking (most cases are only ever treated by local doctors), it is hard to have extremely accurate numbers on the expanding prevalence and spread of Lyme disease.
In the southeast corner of the country, a brand new tick-borne disease has be found to cause allergic reaction to red meat. “An increasing number of people are developing allergies to red meat, and doctors believe the one thing many of them have in common are tick bites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that tick-borne illnesses have more than doubled in recent years, and the problem is likely to keep rising as ticks infest larger areas of the country.” (view the full article here from CBS News).
Feeling brave? Watch this video to learn how ticks feed on their hosts: