Tackling ticks on local trails

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Jim Shaffer and his intern Sophie Banspach are preparing to hunt for ticks. They are wearing overalls, and taping the bottoms of their pant legs.

While this may seem like overkill, you'll soon understand why this is all done.

“They like to be off trails, or near trails where either animals or people go ahead and frequent,” says Shaffer, Program Director with Washoe County Health District Vector Control.

We are only on this trail at Bowers Mansion for a little less than five minutes.

Jim and Sophie use white flags to capture ticks. They sweep shaded areas with all kinds of vegetation, grasses to sage brush hoping to snag ticks.

“Can spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Symptoms, you have headache, you have fever, vomiting, muscle pain, and it can affect your liver, as well, too,” says Shaffer.

He says the disease starts with a rash on the ankles and wrists.

Ticks don't jump onto their hosts; rather certain chemicals emitted by the host, such as carbon dioxide, as well as heat and even movement attract the tick, which grabs onto the host when it brushes against the tick's extended front legs.

Sophie is like many hikers in this area who would think nothing of wearing short-sleeve shirts and shorts. But after today she's rethinking that.

”The fact that we have only been here for 30 minutes and we've already trapped four ticks, it is a concern knowing that I like to hike,” she says.

In an area like this it wouldn't be unusual to find a tick.

To remove it use a pair of tweezers and work close to the skin, remove the tick head first. Be sure to wear light colored clothing. After your hike, check your skin.

If you are with a companion, your child, or family pet, check them out too, including their backsides, since they can’t see that for themselves.