Brace yourself. The ticks are here.
Ah, summertime. BBQs, popsicles, and a litany of outdoor adventures that make Colorado such a great place to live. Colorado saw heavy snows in the winter and lots of rain in the spring, which means that we're rolling into the summer with greenery aplenty, but unfortunately, it also means that some unwanted guests will seriously tick you off. (If you read that as a pun, good on you.)
Ticks are here and they're as big of fans of lush, hydrated hills as us Coloradans. There's some good news and some bad.
The good news is that Lyme Disease, which most people know is not something particularly exciting to worry about, is spread by a tick that is NOT in Colorado. So, you can all breathe.
Another plus for avid outdoor adventurers is the amazing trails that guide hikers to and from hot destination wilderness. People staying on trails are at far less risk of picking up unwanted hitchhikers, as ticks tend to frequent wooded areas and fields. For those who like blazing their own trails, make sure you wear long pants and sleeves to avoid skin exposure to densely wood areas and tall grass. If you're still rocking the goth phase, take a day off and wear light-colored clothes so ticks are easy to spot.
Frequent tick checks, especially on children, will reduce the risk of infection as ticks will not spread the disease until attached – the risk of infection increases the longer the tick is on you. Be sure to check hairlines, and if you do find a pesky freeloader, use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin, pulling it directly off but be sure not to twist. No need for hot matches, blow torches, or suction cups. Wear gloves to ensure the germs from the tick aren't spread to your hands. There are also sprays and repellents you can put on clothes before heading to the high country. It's the little tips that keep the little ticks off you and your crew!
The bad news is that the ticks in Colorado are still dangerous and carry some diseases, which most self-preserving humans are going to want to avoid. There's an infection called Colorado Tick Fever (CTF), a disease that gets its name from a tick in Colorado that will give you a fever. Go figure?!
There are various other diseases, all aptly named – including Tick Paralysis, which mostly affects animals but there have been a few human cases, causes fatigue, numbness of the legs and other extremities, and muscle pains, as well as – you guessed it – paralysis. So if you do run into fever-related symptoms after exposure to a tick, it's a good idea to contact your medical provider, like as soon as possible.
Because we at OCN are glasses half-full kind of people, you'll notice that the bad news is much shorter than the good. It's smart to know, it's smart to stay safe and take precautions. But it's also smart to get out and enjoy this beautiful state we are so lucky to call home! Know what to look for, know what to avoid, and, most importantly, know that just a few little tips can keep off the ticks.
Any other tips? Sound off in the comments below.