SPOKANE, Wash. – With warm weather on its way to eastern Washington, residents should expect the number of ticks to rise. Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) urges people to take simple precautions to avoid being bitten this spring, summer and early fall.
"Different types of ticks carry different diseases," said Steve Main, technical advisor for SRHD's Living Environment program.
Washington state has relatively few cases of tick-borne disease, yet each year a few cases of relapsing fever, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are reported to state health officials.
Continued Main, "Avoid spending time in wooded areas with high grass and leaf litter, and stay on trails whenever possible."
Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants; the light coloring will make ticks easier to see. Use a tick repellant containing at least 20% DEET to protect exposed skin. Products containing permethrin can be used to treat clothing, footwear and gear. When returning from outdoor activities, carefully examine people, pets and the indoor environment for ticks.
If you discover a tick attached to your skin, it is important to remove it quickly. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid removing the tick with bare hands. Don't twist or jerk the tick, which may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the parts with tweezers if possible.
After removing the tick, disinfect the area and wash your hands. Note the date that you found the tick attached to you in case you get sick. If you develop a fever, rash, or aches and pains within a month, let your health care provider know that you were bitten by a tick. This information may help your provider diagnose your illness.
As they did last year, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) invites people from all over the state to send ticks to the agency for a project to learn more about what types of ticks live in our state. Click here for more about sending ticks to DOH.
Dogs are also at risk for tick-borne diseases and are often the first in a group to pick up a tick. Thoroughly check your dog for ticks, including between its toes. Run your fingers through its fur to help detect any bumps that might be ticks. Ask a veterinarian about the best ways to protect your pets and your environment from ticks.
For more information, check out SRHD's Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases flyer. Information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD's web site offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth