Winter ticks cause concern for Lyme disease

Winter tick warning on Central Coast

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Winter is the season for the western black-legged tick. That tick is the primary carrier of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in Santa Cruz County.

Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control gathered hundreds of ticks from a dozen different parks in the area. Among them, is the western black-legged tick.

"In adult ticks which are out right now, you're looking at about 2 percent of them carrying bacteria that can make us sick," vector ecologist Amanda Poulson said.

In 2018 alone there have been five cases of Lyme disease in the county.

"Winter is a time of high adult tick activity in our coastal hills and residents should be aware when spending time outdoors," Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control Manager Paul Binding said.

The ticks live in brush, long grass and logs. All places found on hiking trails.

Animals can be very susceptible to the ticks too. 

"We look for ticks in surveillance by dragging a flannel flag across vegetation, and your dog is basically a flag that runs through any part," Poulson said. "It's hard to keep your dog on trails."

Tick medicine isn't always-full proof. Veteranarians say even if your dog is taking approved medication teh ticks can bail of your animal and onto you.

"Ticks can drop off your tick on to your bed or clothing or sofa and they can reattach to a person," Binding said.

Even if a tick carries a disease, as long as you remove it within a day chances are slim you'll contract a disease.

"Pull it straight out with tweezers is best," Binding said.

If a tick does bite vector control recommends you save it and bring it into them. SCCMVC says they'll be able to tell you if it carries Lyme or another disease.


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