Tick-Borne Illnesses

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DPHHS Tick Awareness
Tick Identification


  • Know where ticks live. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Sometimes even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dogs, camping, gardening, hunting, or hiking could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. This site will help you pick out the right repellent for you. Use products containing Permethrin 0.5% to treat clothing and gear, which will remain protective through several washings, or you could buy permethrin-treated clothing and or gear as an alternative.
  • Ticks are most prevalent during spring through fall. The tick bite tracker shows the majority of tick bites are from April all the way until the end of July.
  • Try to limit exposure to ticks by using insect repellent. Make sure to inspect yourself, your clothing, your gear, and your pets for ticks after being outdoors. Ticks can also be transferred to person-to-person.
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Showering within 2 hours after coming indoors has shown to reduce the risk of getting lyme disease. And may also be effective in reducing risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and is a good opportunity to check for ticks.
  • Check all body parts for ticks; using a handheld mirror or full body mirror can help.
Tick Dog Check
Tick Check


  • Remove leaf litter.
  • Clear tall grasses and bushes around the home and at edges of the lawn.
  • Place a 3ft-wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick movement into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently.
  • Stack wood neatly in a dry area.
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, patios, away from yard edges and trees.
  • Keep away unwelcome animals with fences.
  • Remove old furniture, mattresses, and trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.


  • If you find a tick attached to your skin, do not panic. Just remove the tick as soon as possible.

Tick RemovalTo remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If that does happen, you can use tweezers to remove those parts. If you are unable to remove it easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removal of the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

  • Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. 

FOLLOW UP! If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks after removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite happened, and where you most likely acquired it. 


  • Fever/chills
  • Aches and pains including: headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With lyme disease, you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset depends on the disease and patient’s personal tolerance level.
  • Rashes can occur within 3-30 days of the encounter, and typically will happen before onset of fever. Rash occurs at the tick bite site in approximately 70-80% of people.
    • "Bulls eye rash”
    • Circular rash that expands out and may be warm to touch

If you have been bitten and experience any symptoms, see your doctor. Early recognition is vital, and quick treatment can decrease the risk of serious complications.

Tick-Borne Illnesses in Montana