Take precautions to prevent tick bites

When the snow melts, the sun shines and the winter coats go in the back of the closet, North Dakotans can’t help but run outside, lay in the grass and soak it all in. While it is great to take in the fresh air and warm sun, the last thing you want touching your body this season is a tick. Ticks carry various diseases, and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) recommends you take precautions from these ticks and the diseases they carry.

The highest risk of tickborne disease transmission occurs between late spring and early fall. The key to preventing tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, is to avoid tick bites and find and remove ticks promptly.

-Amanda Bakken, Epidemiologist, NDDoH

Reduce the risk of tick bites:
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent. To find EPA registered products, go to www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-insect-repellent-right-you. Always follow label directions.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear such as boots, backpacks and tents.
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks.
  • Carefully examine gear and pets for ticks.
  • Place clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.

The most common symptoms of tickborne diseases:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain

Early detection of tickborne diseases is important to prevent potentially severe complications. Individuals should seek medical care if they develop symptoms suggestive of a tickborne disease after spending time outdoors.

The NDDoH is conducting tick surveillance again this year with the help of voluntary participants across the state. Ticks are submitted for identification and testing from April until November. This surveillance is important to help the NDDoH understand the types of ticks and tickborne diseases present in North Dakota. North Dakotans can participate in tick surveillance by submitting pictures of ticks to be identified. The NDDoH is especially interested in ticks such as the lone star tick or deer tick.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tick surveillance was not conducted in 2020. During the most recent tick surveillance season, 2019, most ticks collected were identified as American dog ticks, which can transmit tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Deer ticks, which can spread Lyme disease, babesiosis, Powassan virus and other diseases, were submitted from 17 counties. Five ticks identified as a lone star ticks were submitted from Cass, Stutsman, Richland, Emmons and Ramsey counties. Lone star ticks can transmit ehrlichiosis and tularemia. Get additional information about the 2019 tick surveillance project.