COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - Those creepy, crawly external parasites are back for another summer in Colorado. While ticks can be found year-round, the season usually peaks between late spring and early summer.
According to the CDC, ticks can carry germs that cause serious and sometimes deadly diseases like Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.
"They are pretty common," said Dr. Ian Tullberg, Medical Director for Urgent Care Service Line at UCHealth. "You need to be checking yourself for these things. Most likely you've had a tick on you, you may just not have known it.”
UCHealth says the most common tickborne illnesses in our region are Colorado Tick Fever and Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever.
While Lyme Disease is also a threat, it’s not as prevalent in Colorado.
"Lyme disease is not really big here," said Dr. Tullberg. "We had 8 cases, according to the CDC, back in 2019, which was the last time a data was available. Those cases usually are implants from from elsewhere, from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, kind of the upper northeast."
UCHealth also says while there are about 30 different species of ticks in Colorado, the most common in our region are the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the American dog tick.
If you do get a bad tick bite, don’t expect symptoms to show up instantaneously.
"Typically on days three through ten, it's possible to have a reaction," said Dr. Jacan Simon, Family Physician at Peak Vista Community Health Center. "Things to watch out for are: fevers, chills, swelling, redness of the skin, irritation, pain. If anything like that's happening, we definitely want you to follow up with your medical provider.”
Checking your legs, back of knees, under arms, hair, and waist after a hike for any hidden ticks should be a priority.
Your dog should also get a good sweep for any ticks hiding in their fur.
If you do find a tick, be careful pulling it out.
"You're going to want to get tweezers, ideally," said Dr. Simon. "If you don't have a tweezers, you can use your nails as well, but you want to get as close to the skin as possible and then you're going to pull straight out. Pulling straight out will be the best chance of removing the full tick, so none of the tick is left inside the skin.”
"You want to just gently pull straight out, don't twist," said Dr. Tullberg. "Try not to crush too much because then you could actually leave the head in there. But it's just a gentle grasp and pull straight out."
Prevention is key when it comes to ticks, so make sure to wear bug spray that has DEET in it if you're going into wooded areas.
It's also smart to shower soon after being outdoors, and even throw your outdoor clothes into the dryer for about 20 minutes to try and kill any ticks.
For more information about ticks, visit the CDC's website here.