You Won’t Be Happy To Hear That Oregon Is Experiencing A Major Surge Of Ticks This Year
If you’ve spent much time in the outdoors, you’re probably aware of ticks. In Oregon, we have 20 different species of ticks, but only four like to feast on humans. One of those species carries Lyme disease, which has some nasty symptoms that can get serious if the disease is undetected for more than a month. Many states are gearing up for an increased number of ticks this summer, and unfortunately, Oregon is on the list. Here’s what you need to know.
There's nothing more refreshing than a hike in the Oregon wilderness. Fresh air, beautiful scenery...and ticks.
When you return to the trail head and hop in your car, you might end up leaving with a little friend or two. Ticks are parasites that feed on blood, and a few species like to attach themselves to humans for a meal.
Four of the tick species that prey on humans are found here in the Beaver State: the American dog tick (shown here), the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the Pacific Coast tick, and the western black-legged tick.
While serving as a host for any species of ticks is creepy, there's only one tick in Oregon that carries Lyme disease. If a western black-legged tick decides that you'd make an excellent meal, you can suffer some potentially serious health problems later.
You might find a western black-legged tick in many places across the state, but they're most prevalent in the southwest corner or Oregon, in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest area.
Ticks are found all throughout Oregon.
They're particularly fond of areas with a lot of leaves or pine needles on the ground, and thrive in grassy, woodland places. The western black-legged tick tends to hang out on blades of grass and on the stems of plants or bushes, waiting for potential hosts to walk past.
This year, the National Pest Management Association is projecting an increase of ticks in several parts of the country, including Oregon.
Due to the warm, wet winter and the forecast of a hot, dry summer, ticks will thrive here in the Beaver State. Because the winter was warmer than normal, tick populations survived at a greater rate. The hot, dry conditions we're expecting are perfect for them to thrive.
Luckily, ticks must be attached to their host for at least 24 hours before they transmit Lyme disease, so with some vigilance, it's totally preventable.
When you're done with your hike or wilderness adventure, check all over your body for these tiny blood suckers. As you can see, they're tiny, so you'll have to look carefully. Have a friend check areas you can't see, like your back. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using an insect repellent that's also effective for ticks (the repellent should list ticks right on the packaging).
Don't forget to check your pets, too!
Ticks are perfectly happy to feed on Fido, or they might just catch a ride on his fur and go home with him. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a flea/tick medication.
If you do play host to a tick that carries Lyme disease, you'll likely start to see symptoms 3-30 days afterwards. Some people develop a bullseye-shaped rash, but not all patients experience this. Other symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue and muscle aches.
If the disease goes undetected for a longer period of time, patients experience more serious symptoms like inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, facial palsy, shooting pains, and short-term memory loss.
Learn more about ticks and Lyme disease on the
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s website. While cases of Lyme disease are rare, it’s always good to take precautions, but don’t let the fear of ticks keep you off the hiking trail this summer! Here’s a beautiful riverside trail in the Mount Hood National Forest.
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