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Health officials urge caution toward ticks and related illnesses

A house sits in a vast field of yellow grass; clouds gather in the blue sky above.
David Dudley
Wyoming Public Media
Fields such as this one, situated west of Cheyenne, may be crawling with ticks in spring and fall, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) says that tick season is here. That means it’s time to re-educate ourselves on tick-borne illnesses.

Before you go on that hike, take a moment to protect yourself and your loved ones from tick-borne diseases like tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever. However, the ticks that carry Lyme disease are not found in Wyoming.

Courtney Tillman, an infectious diseases expert with the WDH, said the best way to prevent tick-borne illnesses is to prevent tick bites.

"There's a variety of things that people can do to prevent tick bites, "said Tillman. "Apply insect repellent. We recommend those approved by the EPA, which contains 20 percent DEET. Additionally, you can treat your clothing with permethrin."

Tillman suggested avoiding grassy and brushy areas by sticking to the center of trails. You should also check for ticks when returning from such areas.

Tillman said that parents should apply the repellent mentioned above, or some equivalent, to children who will be outside for extended periods of time. And parents should do a head-to-toe tick inspection when their kids return from such adventures.

"If you find a tick that's embedded, you want to remove the tick as soon as possible," Tillman said. "The best way to do that is to use tweezers. Pull up on the tick and pull the tick out."

Using olive oil is not recommended, Tillman added. For step-by-step instructions, and more information, go to health.wyo.gov.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.

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