For those who are not outdoor winter recreational enthusiasts It’s Springtime!!  And that means abundant outdoor recreational activities to choose from.  The Mission Mountains provide numerous opportunities to get out there and enjoy yourself.  Whatever outside activity/hobby you choose be mindful of Ticks.

Ticks in Montana are usually active during warmer months of the year, usually April thru July.  The tick that is most likely found in Montana and nearby states is the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.  The tick may be identified as having 8 legs and having a reddish color and is smaller than a grain of rice.

Ticks primarily live in brushy, or wooded areas with a likelihood of being found in knee-high grassy areas.  As you walk through ticks most commonly will attach themselves to your clothing and eventually making their way into your home and possibly to you.  They may also find their way into your home attached to your pet.

Ticks are known as ectoparasites and survive by feeding on the blood of the host.  To avoid being that “host” there are precautionary measures that can be taken.

  • If you are going hiking stay in center of the trail avoiding brushy areas.
  • Use repellent on skin that contains 20% to 30% DEET, picaridiin,
  • Treat clothing with an insect repellent containing permethrin.  Permethrin Sprays can be applied to clothing to repel ticks. Permethrin sprays can be purchased at several Sporting Goods stores or the outdoor aisles in your local retail box-store. (be sure to follow application instructions)
  • Landscape Management

After spending a day outdoors check your clothing, backpacks, pets for ticks that may have attached themselves.  Light colored clothing can be especially favorable to show if any ticks are present.  If any are found do not crush instead the live tick may be placed in a napkin and flushed down the toilet or place the tick into a container of alcohol.

For added reassurance your clothing can be placed in the dryer for 10 minutes to kill any ticks.

After a day of recreating examine your clothing and outdoor gear.  Once completed it is recommended to do a full-body check of yourself and your small children if they had accompanied you.  Check for ticks on these body parts:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears                                 
  • In and around the ears
  • Between the legs                  
  • Inside the belly button
  • Around the waist
  • Back of the knees

If you do find a tick on your body remove it as soon as

possible.  The recommended method is to use plain set of pointy-tipped tweezers.  1.  Place the tweezers on both sides of the tick as close to the skin as possible.  2. Pull upward very steadily with even pressure.  Do not twist or jerk.  3. If the head does break off you try to remove it with the tweezers if your unsuccessful the site will heal without further concern.  After the tick is removed clean the bite area with alcohol or soap and water.

Do not try any home remedies to remove the tick such as burning it with a hot object such as a match, cigarette; applying nail polish or petroleum jelly to smother it.  You may make the problem worse.

Once removed you may want to keep the tick in a plastic bag marked with the date and recreation location in case you do develop any after affects.

After being bit by a tick watch for symptoms for 30 days.  In Montana the rocky mountain wood tick may transmit a disease identified as “Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.” (RMSF)

According to the Center Disease Control states RMSF signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever                         
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Muscle Pain
  • Lack of Appetite

After being bitten by a tick a person can initially experience headache, fever and chills.  Be aware of any rash that may develop on the wrists and ankles and spreading to the rest of the body.  The rash will usually develop within 2-4 days.  If you develop any of these symptoms it is recommended to see your health care provider.

For more information, you can contact Brian Crawford, Sanitarian CSKT Office of Environmental Health at 745-3525 ext. 5078