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person applying insect repellent on long sleeves


Ticks and Health in Boulder County

Ticks can cause illness. In Colorado, they can transmit:

  • Colorado Tick Fever
  • Tularemia
  • Tick-borne Relapsing Fever
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Ticks known to transmit Lyme disease are not known to be present in Colorado

The most common ticks in Colorado are:

  • Rocky Mountain wood tick
  • Brown dog tick
  • American dog tick

Ticks feed on the blood of an animal or human as part of their life cycle and then drop off when they have fed enough. They can survive for several years without feeding. Ticks are attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled by animals and humans.

The best way to prevent tick-borne disease is to avoid ticks.

  • Avoid traveling through areas where ticks are most abundant — tick peak activity in Colorado peaks from late April through mid-July.
  • Tick populations are highest where animal hosts most commonly travel.
  • Ticks are common in brushy areas along the edges of fields and woodlands or along paths through grassy areas and shrublands.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET, especially on the lower body.
    • Do not use high concentration formulations (over 30%) of DEET on children.
    • Apply insect repellent to clothing rather than to skin
    • Do not apply DEET to hands or other areas that may cause it to contact the mouth.
    • Do not apply DEET to wounds or irritated skin.
  • After use, wash insect repellent off of the skin, particularly on children.
  • Wear light-colored protective clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts and pull socks over the bottom of the pant legs.
  • Conduct tick checks. Ticks take 12-24 hours to settle and begin feeding. Look for, and remove any ticks when returning from outdoor activities.

Grasp the tick with blunt tweezers as close to the skin as possible. If blunt tweezers are not available, you may use your fingers, covering them first with a tissue or thin plastic to avoid possible transmission of disease organisms.

  • Pull the tick slowly and steadily, straight away from the skin. Try not to crush the tick as you remove it.
  • After the tick is removed, treat the area with a disinfectant, and wash your hands.

Tick paralysis is a rare but potentially serious condition that may occur when a feeding tick remains attached for a long period and produces ascending paralysis. Early symptoms, such as difficulty walking, progress to more generalized symptoms, such as limb numbness and difficulty breathing. This condition is completely reversible when the tick is removed. If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Trim brush and bushes back in your yard to dissuade ticks from living there. The more sunlight (no shade) hitting your yard, the better since ticks like warm and shady areas.
  • Prevent pets from going into any wooded areas where ticks may hide.
  • Keep your grass short, and don’t overwater it.
  • Rake leaves and remove any yard debris when necessary. Leaves, sticks, trash, and other items that pile up will provide the perfect hiding spot for ticks.
  • Use mulch around your trees and shrubs to dissuade ticks from making a home underneath them. You can also use mulch or gravel around the border of your house to create a physical barrier against ticks, especially if you live on the border of more wooded areas.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you’re going to be outside for an extended period, and change your clothes and wash them after you come back inside.
  • Shower after returning from outdoor activities in tick habitat during peak tick season.
  • Give yourself and your pets a check before returning inside, especially after being near heavily wooded areas. Ticks like warm, moist areas so pay special attention to your armpits, knees, groin area, and scalp, as well as your pet’s head, neck, ears and feet.

Just as maintaining a clean yard can help keep ticks away, it’s just as important to maintain a clean environment inside your home. The following steps are especially important to follow if you’ve found a tick on yourself or your pet since you’ll want to make sure that others haven’t gotten inside your house through clothing or hair.

  • Ticks like warm, dry places so pay close attention to areas of the house that might be create this environment, such as near heaters during the winter.
  • Ticks are tiny, so you’ll want to check in any small, unsuspecting areas, including the space around your doors and windows, around the seams of your couch and clothing, underneath and behind furniture, and on the baseboards of your walls. Ticks also like to climb, so grab a flashlight and check the corners of your walls and molding.
  • If you have carpets and rugs, vacuum immediately after finding a tick and try to vacuum at least once a week, and dispose of your vacuum bag afterward.
  • Remove any clutter from your house to give ticks even less of an opportunity to hide. Avoid leaving clothes and toys on the floor and try to keep your storage spaces as clean as possible.
  • Sweep and mop in addition to vacuuming. Cleaning gives you a better chance of removing a tick from your house before you need to remove it from a body.
  • Ask the veterinarian which tick control is best to use on your pets.

Contact Us

Vector Control Program

Main: 303-441-1564
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