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The weather is getting warmer and people are starting to spend more outside. Unfortunately, there is a blood-sucking, disease-carrying pest out there waiting for them. As we head into tick season, scientists are predicting elevated tick activity in 2018. The relatively mild winter throughout the United States brought no deep freezes to kill off tick populations, so tick season is kicking into high gear even sooner than usual. Traditionally, ticks are a big problem for the Midwest and eastern United States, but lately, scientists are seeing an expanding geographic range for tick activity. Living on the West Coast no longer guarantees that you’ll be safe from ticks. Though tick activity and Lyme Disease are far less prevalent in the West than in other parts of the country, ticks still exist out here. We’re setting out to identify the top 5 West Coast cities for Lyme Disease and tick activity.
If you feel you have ticks around your home and want to get rid of them, contact your local Western Exterminator office today for a pest inspection and to discuss tick treatments.
The following list of cities ranks West Coast cities by number of reported Lyme Disease cases from 2000-2016.
The mild winter has been especially instrumental in the early start to tick season in Portland, Oregon. This area sees high tick activity in May, June, and July, in the parts of the city at a lower elevation. The state of Oregon has seen an increase in Lyme Disease cases in recent years, and a large part of that statistic comes from Multnomah County. Sure, there are plenty of breweries and coffee shops dotting the streets of Portland, but there are also hundreds of hiking trails leading to gorgeous waterfalls and other natural scenery, and we aren’t the only ones who enjoy it. With all of this hiking and time spent outdoors, comes shared space with ticks.
Surrounded by Humboldt Bay on one side and the redwood-covered mountains of Humboldt County on the other, it is easy to see how Eureka, California is home to endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hiking is especially ubiquitous in this city, an integral part of “California’s Redwood Coast.” Where there are forests, there are likely to be ticks.
When you think of San Diego, California, you likely think of beaches, sidewalk cafes, and sand volleyball...not the rural back-country that is home to ticks. People who spend time in the more rural areas are (obviously) at a higher risk for tick bites and Lyme Disease. Luckily tick season ends a little sooner here than in other parts of the country. The Western black-legged tick is most commonly found in October through April in San Diego County.
Los Angeles, California, situated in the most populous count in the United States, comes in at number two for West Coast cities with the most cases of Lyme Disease and tick activity. Ticks like people and there are plenty to go around in L.A. Scientists have found that Los Angeles ticks often take one blood meal per host, attaching to a new one during each life stage. But Western black-legged ticks are not the only ones causing problems in Los Angeles. Despite the usual behavior of the brown dog tick (feeding on dogs), the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has often found them feeding on the inhabitants of Los Angeles. Luckily, dog ticks are primarily considered a nuisance pest and rarely transmit disease.
Last but certainly not least, we come to number one on our list....Santa Rosa, California. Home to numerous regional and state parks and world-class hiking trails, Santa Rosa ticks have plenty of opportunities to find unsuspecting human hosts. Annadel State Park, a Santa Rosa park that attracts about 150,000 recreation-seekers each year, is full of ticks. Annadel Park Ranger Bob Birkland said that he’s “more concerned about the small arachnids than rattlesnakes” and has been bitten more times that he can count. In Sonoma County, ticks are active year-round, so if you find yourself traveling there for a hike, make sure to stay on the trail!
Western black-legged ticks are at the root of most West Coast Lyme Disease cases. Found in 55 of 58 Californian counties, this tick is a common vector for the disease. The symptoms of Lyme Disease range in severity depending on how long the disease goes untreated. A tick bite can often result in a bullseye-shaped rash, a common first symptom but not present in all cases.
Within the following few days after the bite, an infected person will contract flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, headache, fatigue, etc.). Other rashes may surface as well. If the disease is still left untreated, infected individuals may develop cardiovascular or neurological symptoms. Lyme disease is rarely fatal, and though there is not currently an existing vaccine, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics if done in a timely manner.
If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it ASAP. In order to contract Lyme Disease, the vector tick must be attached for 36+ hours to transmit the pathogen, so it is best to remove the tick as soon as it is found.
Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as you can, and pull it straight out. Do not put any sort of ointment, clear nail polish, etc., on the tick. Once it has been removed, wash the bite area with soap and water and monitor the site to make sure a rash does not develop.
The bite may itch after you remove the tick, but this is normal. Make sure to save the tick in a sealed plastic bag so that it can be tested later for disease. If you or your pet experience any unusual or flu-like symptoms post-bite, call your doctor or veterinarian right away.
If you’re having problems with ticks on your property, contact the tick experts at Western Exterminator today. Give yourself peace of mind by knowing Western’s pest specialists are looking out for you and your family and can provide treatments to get rid of ticks and prevent them from coming back.
**Data from the Center for Disease Control’s Case Counts by County Report