Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on May 16, 2024
Health Experts Warn of Lyme Disease Risk as Tick Populations Surge in Northern CaliforniaSource: Unplash

As Northern California enjoys the bloom of late spring, local residents and their furry friends need to be extra vigilant: Tick season is in full swing, and health experts are raising the alarm about the increased risk of Lyme disease. Thanks to a wetter-than-usual spring, tick populations in the region are not only thriving but are also likely to extend their presence deep into the summer months, according to SFGATE.

The culprits, Western blacklegged ticks, have been particularly plentiful this year, with UC Davis and Stanford researchers identifying several Northern California hotspots to watch out for, including coastal woodlands and regional parks. These bloodthirsty arachnids are notorious for harboring the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, an infection known to bring on joint pain, fatigue, rashes, and potentially chronic symptoms for which there's no cure. Nearly half a million Americans are afflicted each year with the disease, as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per Patch.

To combat the tick threat, Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) shared some practical advice for outdoor enthusiasts: Suit up in long pants tucked into boots or socks and favor long-sleeve shirts; select light-colored clothing to more easily spot any freeloaders. After jaunting through tick territory, do a thorough tick check over your entire body. And for your own safety, stick to trail centers—avoid the edges, brushes, and grassy areas where ticks love to hang out.

"Wearing long sleeves and pants alongside appropriate use of EPA registered insect repellents such as DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus, can act as a barrier against ticks, while light-colored clothing allows for easier spotting of ticks that may be crawling on you," Ben Dolf, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist for Humboldt County, responsibly informed SFGATE. Pets are just as prone to the dangers of Lyme disease and can unwittingly usher ticks into homes. It's essential to discuss tick preventatives with your vet and always check pets after outdoor adventures.

Should you or your pet become a tick's meal, the CDC guidelines, which PRNSA links to on Instagram, provide clear steps on how to safely remove the parasitic pest. Use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp as close to the skin's surface as possible and pull the tick out with steady, even pressure. Once out, thoroughly clean the bite area. And if you suspect you or your pet may be exhibiting symptoms of Lyme disease, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation urges you to contact a doctor pronto.