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'Time bomb': an invasion of dangerous ticks in California

The Weather Channel recently announced that much of the US will become a "ticking time bomb" in 2021 and presented a map showing that California's tick threat this year is slightly above average. And despite the drought that usually scares away ticks, scientists are spotting more of these creatures on the coast than ever before. The edition told in more detail SF Gate.

Photo: Shutterstock

Colorado State University tick researcher Daniel Salkeld discussed how weather conditions this year could affect tick season.

The study found that disease-carrying ticks, thought to be primarily forest-dwelling, also live off the coast of Northern California. They trap people in grassy areas on the sand dunes that people pass through to get to the beach. And what is most interesting: in the coastal areas of the bay area, up to 31% of ticks are carriers of harmful bacteria.

“The high prevalence of disease-causing mites in coastal areas surprised us a lot,” Salkeld says. "Simultaneous analysis of all tick-borne pathogens makes us rethink the risk of disease."

Salkeld has been studying ticks for almost 15 years. On a research trip to northern California in late May, he found many western black-footed ticks, the ones that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. They are in the counties of Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara, he says, especially in Marin Headlands.

In the vegetation near Stinson Beach, he collected ticks at all stages of development - larvae, nymphs and adults. “I've never found such a thing before,” says the scientist.

On the subject: A new dangerous tick species has appeared in the USA

He emphasizes that it is impossible to say why they are here, and one can add that to a long list of other mysteries related to ticks, especially regarding how the climate affects their populations. However, there are a couple of nuances that are known for certain.

In general, mites prefer warm weather and high humidity. So while drought may hold back their numbers in California this year, a shorter winter could extend their period of activity. However, when looking at the spread of tick-borne diseases, there are other factors, Salkeld says. For example, due to warmer weather, people spend more time outdoors. Warmer weather also encourages more activity among other mite hosts such as squirrels, lizards, and deer.

Another finding from the EPA study is that climate-related temperature increases are projected to expand the range of habitats that are favorable for ticks, which in turn will contribute to the spread of the disease. Lime.

Of the 48 species of ticks in California, only six have shown a serious interest in human blood. Only one of these, the aforementioned Western Blackfoot, is known to carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, an infection characterized by fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes skin rashes. If untreated, it can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. In rare cases, this can be fatal.

California Department of Public Health official Ronald Owens said there were just under 2020 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in the state in 50. “In contrast, there are typically about 100 confirmed and 40 probable cases each year,” Owens said.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York

The ixodid tick and canine ixodid tick are widespread on the coast of California and are known to carry the pathogens of spotted fever, sometimes transmitting tularemia, a rare infection that affects the skin, eyes, lymph nodes and lungs.

Recently, a photo of ticks went viral on Facebook. The author, Hunter Cornick, lives in rural Nova Scotia, where the dog tick population has grown rapidly in recent years. An outdoor enthusiast with a degree in forests and wildlife, Kornik has invented a fairly effective method of protecting against ticks.

“If you tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants, the tick will go up your entire length, almost every time it reaches your hairline, usually at the back of your neck,” says Kornik. "So I thought that if I wrap the sticky side of the tape around my legs, then while my pants are tucked in them, they will climb over the tape."

According to Kornik, this method captured 99% of the insects, which in many cases resulted in dozens of mites. The photo, which he posted on Facebook, set an all-time record: 27 pieces stuck to the tape.

Salkeld found the method "cool" and added that "such a detection can be done in California if you walk over the wrong section of the bush." He knows a vector control biologist from San Mateo who, he says, collects ticks "in large numbers" in the collar of his shirt.

So what can a Californian do without a shirt collar or want to tape his pants up?

According to experts, a substance called permethrin generally works well. You spray it on your clothes and let them dry throughout the day. Ticks will die on contact with sprayed clothing. You can also buy clothes that have been pretreated with a chemical.

If you or your dog has been bitten by a tick, grab the insect by the head with tweezers. Pull it straight out and do not twist the tick's body, otherwise the bloodsucker's head will come off and remain in your body.

Ticks can be scary, but Salkeld hopes they won't stop people from spending time outside.

“It's a manageable problem if you're trying to prevent tick bites,” he says. - Wear repellent. Come home, take a shower. And watch your health. If you really have a fever or headache, tell your doctor about a possible tick bite. "

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