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Tick season begins in the Treasure Valley: Here's how to protect your kids and pets

Ticks in Idaho can spread diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and more.

BOISE, Idaho — Many people are spending more time in the foothills or on the Greenbelt while Idaho is under a statewide stay-at-home order. Exercising outdoors near your home is still allowed under the order.

It gives people the opportunity to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise during the pandemic. One thing you'll want to watch out for, though, is ticks.

And while there are many different tick species, Dr. Alix McGrath, the director of medicine for the Idaho Humane Society, told KTVB the Rocky Mountain wood tick is the one to worry about in Idaho.

They don’t transmit Lyme disease like other tick species, but they do transmit other diseases to people and to pets.

“Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, tick-borne undulating fever and also a disease called tick paralysis that dogs can get from toxins in the tick’s saliva,” McGrath said.

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Ticks are most active once it starts to get warmer outside. The insects live in grassy, brushy areas and they can easily get on people or dogs when out for a hike.

“Ticks are really smart, they find themselves on the ends of branches or on tips of long grass and they wait with their arms stretched and they're ready to kind of jump onto any warm body that passes by,” McGrath said. “Dogs are the perfect target because they're going all over, especially off the trail.”

It’s best to check on dogs for ticks all over their body as soon as the hike is done.

“I would check your dog before you load them into your car,” McGrath said. “Because you don't want any ticks hitchhiking onto your dog's coat and getting into your car or house.”

The CDC recommends people should check themselves and their children after hikes as well. Some places to look are under the arms, in and around the ears, the back of knees, in and around the hair and between the legs. People should also use bug spray that is registered with the EPA and contains DEET.

They also recommend people treat their clothing and other outdoor gear with products that contain permethrin. This can be used to treat a number of outdoor items like boots and camping gear.   

McGrath told KTVB its best to have dogs on a tick prevention medicine to help prevent bites. She said to check with a veterinarian though before using any sort of medicine.

“By using tick prevention on your dog, you're protecting all the people in your household as well,” she said.

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