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Health experts warn outdoor enthusiasts about ticks

Published On: May 01 2014 05:24:23 PM MDT
Updated On: May 01 2014 06:51:55 PM MDT
dphhs ticks
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is warning people to be on the lookout for ticks.

Spring warmth has more folks heading outdoors, and health experts say people need to watch out for ticks. Ticks are small parasites that spread diseases when they bite people.

We met with Alex Kosseff with the Outdoor Safety Institute near the Bozeman "M" trail. He showed us where ticks live, and how people can pick them up when they brush up against tall grasses and trees.

Kosseff tells us he caught Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, about 20 years ago. Now he is more careful to protect himself.

"I was really really sick, like had a fever of 104 initially, and I got treatment right away, but the first round of antibiotics didn't take effect so I was sick for three to four months before I got that fixed," said Kosseff.

He gave us some tips on how to protect yourself from ticks when you are out enjoying the outdoors.

"Wearing light-colored clothing is really helpful because it makes ticks stand out. Check yourself and your children and your pets for ticks when you are done with the activity or during the day. And it's always a great idea to take a shower after you're done with the activity, because that's a great way to check for ticks all over your body," said Kosseff.

We looked into tick disease data from the Centers for Disease Control. Lyme disease is the most common tick illness. The most recent numbers show in 2012, there were 22,014 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. Six of those were in Montana.  

Early symptoms include rash in a bull's eye pattern, along with fever, chills, and body aches. If untreated it can lead to joint pain, and neurological problems.