It's spring, and that means a host of hard-bodied, blood sucking arachnids will be trying to make a meal out of Montana hikers. Tick season has arrived.

"As the temperatures begin to get warmer in Montana, the ticks start to come out," said Montana Department of Health and Human Services Epidemiologist Joel Merriman. "We're just saying to be tick aware this spring and to wear your insect repellant, long pants and long shirts, and to detach any ticks if you do see them."

Ticks carry a variety of diseases in Montana, all of which can be treated if detected soon enough.

"There are four tick-born illnesses that can be transmitted to humans in Montana: those are are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tick-born relapsing fever, and tularemia," Merriman said.

The diseases carried by ticks are relatively rare, with just one to three cases of each disease per year in Montana.

Below are DPHHS' suggested guidelines for tick removal:

· Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.

· Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

· After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Do no use folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. These methods are not recommended and may cause the tick to burrow deeper into the skin.


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