DENVER (KDVR) — Ticks are out and experts tell FOX31 the wet spring weather could play a role in an uptick.
Lisa Mason, a horticulture specialist and entomologist, said tick season is usually in the spring and summer.
“They prefer cool and moist conditions,” Mason said. “We’ve had a very wet spring and that can influence tick populations, so we may have more ticks. If the cool temperatures and the rain sticks around awhile, tick season, the peak, might last a little bit longer.”
Mason said it’s likely to see ticks in the tall grasses, trees and shrubs along hiking trails in the foothills and mountains, but they can also be in open spaces closer to the city.
“They can be pretty much anywhere outdoors especially where there’s tall grass and vegetation,” said Mason.
She said there are 27 tick species in Colorado that carry a variety of different diseases. While Lyme disease isn’t one of them, Mason said the most common are Colorado tick fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Dr. Genevieve Hillis with UCHealth said they’ve already seen a handful of tick-related cases.
“When you first start to get some of these illnesses that they carry, it feels a lot like a cold,” Hillis said. “You kind of get the body aches, you get the chills, you just don’t feel very good.”
While these diseases are treatable, Hillis said it’s best to remove the tick as quickly as possible.
“If you get that thing off within a couple of hours, you’re good,” Hillis said. “The transmission rate is almost zero.”
Experts said the best way to remove a tick is to grab it with tweezers as close as possible to the skin and pull directly back. Twisting or crushing an attached tick could release its saliva back into the host’s body.
Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, a veterinarian, said it’s also a good idea to check on your pets, especially when returning from a hike.
“Check under the ears, around the collar, under the neck, in the ear itself, in folds of the skin and between the toes,” Fitzgerald said.
He said there’s also medication for pets like Bravecto that prevent tick-borne illnesses.
“I think by checking your dog all the time, you recognize the normal and then you can identify the abnormal that much quicker,” Fitzgerald said.
Some other helpful tips included sticking to the trails, wearing bug spray and dressing in protective clothing.