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Lyme-borne tick found near California beach

Millions of people enjoy hanging out at California beaches in the warmer months. So do ticks that carry Lyme disease.

That’s one of the findings from four years of field work in California’s San Francisco Bay Area and nearby wine country, involving an accumulation of about 3,000 western black-legged ticks.

The abundance of bloodsuckers surprises tick biologists and experts. This is partly because it is not yet clear which species will be widespread.

How these ticks survive, feed and breed in coastal areas, says Dan Salkeld, an ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, who led the study. western gray squirrel The host is the tick̵

7;s favorite mammal. The grass is rarely seen by the sea.

Although this research has not yet been published. But it may be important to assess how debilitating Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection. It’s on the rise in the Bay Area and across the state.

Linda Giampa, president of the Lime Bay Area Foundation, said she had no suspicion that the disease had begun to worsen.

“Ticks are definitely increasing,” said Giampa, whose research funded the organization. “It’s basic ecology.”

Others, including Salkeld, said it was difficult to determine long-term trends.

“Looking at the pattern of human cases over the years is not straightforward. May be different every year And the picture can be complicated by changes in weather conditions. change in perception or Lyme disease surveillance and so on,” he said. “It is difficult to determine the specific pathway of human cases.”

Still, California has a much lower incidence of tick-borne disease than other parts of the country, particularly the east coast. where as many as half of the ticks can be carriers

on the contrary Exploring in Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties It indicates a 4% incidence of Lyme disease-causing bacteria in ticks found in rainforests, grasslands and beach scrubs.

Giampa said there are still hot spots further south — in Malibu, Manhattan Beach and Newport Beach.

“I know it’s there,” Giampa said, referring to ongoing studies her organization is funding in Southern California.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 476,000 people are diagnosed every year. Most cases occur in northeastern states. mid atlantic state and the upper Midwest

The early symptoms of a disease caused by bacteria known as Borrelia Bergdorferi, These include fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain. and swollen lymph nodes If left untreated It can cause arthritis, joint swelling, facial deformities, heart defects, encephalitis, and nerve pain.

This disease is generally treated with standard antibiotics. It is common in the East Coast for doctors to prescribe regular antibiotics for patients who report being bitten by a tick. However, in California, where the disease is not well studied or seen, recognition will be delayed

That’s what Giampa’s group is trying to differentiate. By funding research, such as Salkeld, to better understand the behavior and ecology of the western black-legged tick. and to explore the incidence of Lyme-causing bacteria in them.

Citizen Science Education Support Organization Published in 2019, people across the country collect and send ticks to a laboratory in Arizona for analysis. Between 2016 and 2018, the team analyzed more than 21,000 ticks from 49 states and found that ticks can live in Lyme disease in 24 states, including unknown populations of the Western deer tick or tick. which is common in the east and the Upper Midwest

and in January The results showed that The western black-legged tick along the west coast tends to expand its range as population increases and climate changes.

Seemay Chou, a biochemist at UC San Francisco, is working with Salkeld and others to investigate other tick diseases, including viruses.

“We are trying to fully explore the northern California area” for other microbes in ticks. Try to find lesser-known tick-borne diseases.

When the footprints of these infected ticks expand. Researchers and advocates say it’s important to know how and where it happens. some have vernacular describing how spiders are “seeking” to find “blood”.

Richard Ostfeld, an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, says humans often create environments where ticks and their hosts thrive. on the east coast where Ostfeld conducted most of his research. The ideal place for deer ticks is mice. and they love the suburbs

along the west coast Black-legged ticks like lizards and squirrels. And while this new research indicates An unknown host who frequently scrubs the beach, Ostfeld and Salkeld say chameleons are unlikely to be such hosts. Because it contains biological substances that neutralize bacteria.

Ostfeld said he wasn’t surprised to find a tick by the ocean. By noting that they prefer a humid or humid environment. other researchers They said they had heard little reports that ticks were increasingly spreading across the state. Even in the current drought, Salkeld said: “I don’t know what it is about.”

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