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Drought Conditions Mean Ticks Will Be More Aggressive – Take These Precautions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The snow is melting, the weather is warmer and, due to a light winter for snow and overall drought conditions, ticks are once again on the move in force.


Summit County Environmental Health Director Nathan Brooks said the unusually aggressive tick season starts from snowmelt until mid-July.


“It varies from year to year based on elevation, geographic location, and the climate,” he said. “Right now it seems like it is definitely in full movement. We're taking more and more calls daily. I've talked to a couple of the medical providers here in town. They're also seeing an increase in calls just wanting to be informed, people wanting to know what to do if they do find one, how they can prevent them.”


Brooks said if you plan to go into the woods or use trails, you should use tick repellent with DEET tuck your pants into your socks, and wear long-sleeved tops.  


"We want to wear light-colored clothing, make it easier to detect those ticks, and then of course when we get back home or wherever we're at indoors, you know we strip down, and we make a thorough investigation of our armpits waistline, belly button, scalp, and the crotch area, and then maybe take a shower within that time so you can evaluate,” he said. “That's probably the key is to make sure you don't let them give them the time that they can embed."  


Brooks said the process takes 24 to 36 hours for the tick to embed and seal itself into human and animal skin.


"If they're in a wooded area, you know, our dogs like to run,” he said. “You need to make sure that you're inspecting and ensuring that, you know, checking behind their ears, under their armpits, anywhere that you know the ticks feels like it's at home, we need to evaluate those pets as well."



Brooks said the best way to remove the tick and prevent it from transmitting disease is to use tweezers and pull it straight up without twisting or crushing it. He said if the tick’s body is destroyed but its mouth remains embedded, you should see a medical provider. 


“Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, targeting what you can see of the mouthparts,” he said. “If you don't have tweezers, so you were out on the hill, and you have one, it's possible if you had a piece of thread that was off a piece of your clothing, you could wrap that around and pull that tick carefully backward."


The most common tick in Utah and in the Wasatch Back is the Rocky Mountain wood tick. He said it doesn't transmit Lyme disease. However, it is more common a tick found in Utah would transmit Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever or tick paralysis.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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