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Clinical Services | Disease Investigation | Epidemiology Newsletters

Ticks

 

 

Menace

 

of the

 

Woods

 

How do I avoid ticks?

North Idaho is home to several species of ticks that carry diseases that can spread to people. Anyone who spends time in the outdoors in northern Idaho should take these precautions to avoid being bitten by ticks:

  • Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants;
  • Wear shoes and hats to prevent ticks from attaching to the skin;
  • Wear an approved tick repellent and follow the manufacturer's recommendations;
  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid overhanging grass and brush;
  • After spending time outdoors, conduct a tick check of your body and your childen's bodies.

 

What do I do if I find a tick on me?

Remove ticks promptly and carefully. Use tweezers to grasp the tick's mouth parts as close to the skin as possible. Try not to crush the tick's body when removing it, and grasp the tweezers as close to the skin as possible to avoid leaving the tick mouth parts in the skin. Slowly and steadily pull the tick away from the skin. Wear gloves, if possible, when removing ticks. Be sure to thoroughly wash the bite site and your hands with soap and warm water after removing any ticks.

 

What sort of diseases do ticks carry?

Relapsing Fever - is rare but present in northern Idaho. There are several cases every year. Relapsing fever is caused by bacteria that is spread to people by the bite of a soft tick. The soft tick generally is attached to a person for less than a few hours. Many people don't even know a tick has bitten them. Soft ticks are frequently found in old summer  cabins and structures which have been closed up for winter.

Symptoms include

  • a high fever lasting several days followed by several days of no fever with the fever returning again for several days. Relapses can occur more than 10 times;.
  • headaches;
  • body aches;
  • sensitivity to light;
  • nausea;
  • severe fatigue
  • rash may be present at start of illness.

 

Symptoms generally begin several days to a week after an infected tick bites. Relapsing fever is not spread from person to person. Common antibiotics can be taken for treatment.

 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) - is also rare in Idaho. RMSF is caused by bacteria that is spread to people by the bite of a hard tick. The tick needs to be attached to a person for at least four hours before infection can happen.

Symptoms include:

  • sudden onset of fever which can last two to three weeks;
  • severe malaise;
  • deep muscle pain;
  • severe headache;
  • chills;
  • sensitivity to light;
  • rash that develops on the third to fifth day, starting on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and then spreading to the trunk of the body.

Symptoms typically begin three to 14 days after the infected tick bites. RMSF is not spread person to person. It can be very serious but can be treated with common antibiotics.

 

Colorado Tick Fever - is caused by a virus that is spread by the bite of a hard tick. It is rare in Idaho. The virus survives in ticks at high elevations, generally above 4,000 feet.

Symptoms include:

  • fever of about 103 degrees F;
  • chills;
  • nausea;
  • sensitivity to light;
  • fatigue;
  • severe headache;
  • sometimes a rash.

Symptoms typically begin four to five days after an infected tick's bite and last a few days, go away and return several times. Colorado Tick Fever is not spread person to person. There is no medication to treat the virus. Good supportive treatment of symptoms and rest is recommended.

 

Tularemia - is also rare in Idaho. Tularemia (rabbit fever) is caused by bacteria that spreads to people from infected rodents or from the bite of a hard tick.

Symptoms include:

  • high fever;
  • chills;
  • body aches;
  • fatigue;
  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • a skin ulcer at the site of the tick bite;
  • sometimes, swelling of the regional lymph nodes.

Symptoms generally start three to five days after an infected tick bites and can last for weeks to months. Symptoms can be very serious. Tularemia is not spread person to person. It can be treated with common antibiotics.

 

Lyme Disease - is caused by a bacteria that spreads to people from the bite of a hard deer tick. The species of hard deer tick that transmits Lyme disease is not native to northern Idaho. Still, several cases of Lyme disease have been reported in the five northern counties from people with no travel history. It's not known if the species of hard tick present in northern Idaho can spread the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. A tick needs to be attached to a person for at least 24 hours before it spreads an infection.

Symptoms include:

  • bullseye-like rash at the site of the tick bite;
  • fever;
  • fatigue;
  • headaches;
  • muscle aches;
  • joint pain;
  • stiff neck.

Symptoms typically begin three to 32 days after a bite from an infected tick. Untreated, the symptoms will escalate into long-term chronic symptoms that can include arthritis, pain and swelling of joints, nervous system disorders and severe headaches. Lyme disease is not spread person to person.

Tick-borne paralysis - is caused by a toxin produced in the salivary gland of a tick. After a tick has been attached to a person for several hours, it can sometimes begin to transmit the toxin into the person.

Symptoms include:

  • severe fatigue;
  • headaches;
  • muscle paralysis usually starting in the legs and working upward.

Tick-borne paralysis has the potential to lead to respiratory paralysis if the tick is not removed. Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after the tick attaches itself to a person. Once the tick is removed, symptoms resolve within hours to days.

 

For more information on tick-borne diseases, visit the following website:

 



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