It's Tick Season in the San Luis Valley

Submitted by SLVH Infection Prevention, Jeffrey Oster, DPM and Jessica Garcia, RN, BSN, CIC

  • Tick season is from spring to mid-summer
  • There is no Lyme Disease in Colorado
  • 5% of all tick bites result in infection transmission

Living an ‘outdoor life’ means that you might come in contact with critters who are going to take, shall we say, a particular interest in you. Late spring and early summer are the times when you may encounter ticks. To thrive, ticks acquire nutrients through a blood meal from a human, rodent or other animal. Ticks transfer a number of diseases to humans through their saliva during a blood meal.

In Colorado, the most common tick borne disease is Colorado Tick Fever. It is caused by a virus and causes flu like symptoms that include fever, joint pain and fatigue. Symptoms begin 3-5 days following a Colorado Wood Tick bite. You should contact your healthcare provider for further treatment.

Another possible fatal illness is the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), but despite its name, it is not commonly found in Colorado, but in the Midwestern United States.

The tick that transmits Lyme Disease (the Black Legged Tick) does not live in Colorado, therefore it would be highly unlikely to contract Lyme Disease from a Colorado tick bite.

At lower elevations we might encounter the Brown Dog Tick and the American Dog Tick.

Below is a list of tips for prevention and treatment:

  1. Wear long pants and long sleeves when working or recreating outdoors. Wearing light colors helps to identify ticks.
  2. Common repellants used to prevent tick bites include DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  3. Shower after outdoor adventures and complete a full body tick check. Look particularly closely at hairlines and along the neck.
  4. Use a tick collar on your dogs and perform a regular check for ticks.
  5. Remove any ticks with tweezers, grabbing as much of the tick as possible and pulling. Use gloves and do not crush the tick.