Large increase in the local tick population in Siskiyou County

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Siskiyou County Health Officer Dr. Stephen Kolpacoff would like residents to be aware that as we continue in the third year of drought and warm winter seasons, we are experiencing a large increase in the local tick population over a widespread area within the county.

Ticks are generally found near the ground, in brushy or wooded areas. They cannot jump or fly. Instead, they climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for a potential host (human and animal) to brush against them. When this happens, they climb onto the host and seek a site for attachment and a blood meal.

An individual may become infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease when bitten by an infected western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus).

As the number of tick borne diseases continues to increase, the first line of defense for all these diseases is taking precautions to avoid tick bites.

• Avoid areas where ticks live if possible.

• Wear light colors so ticks can be easily seen if they get on your clothing.

• Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks, and tuck your shirt into your pants.

• Use repellant registered for use against ticks which contains at least 20 percent DEET. Always read and follow the label directions when applying repellents.

• Thoroughly check yourself and your children frequently for ticks, especially at the hairline, base of the scalp, under the arms, in and around ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs and around the waist.

• Routinely check your pets for ticks and remove them promptly. Check with your veterinarian for appropriate tick control products.

• If you have been in a known tick area, it is important to perform body checks for up to three days after leaving the area due to the possibility of a small nymph that has matured.

Tick Removal

Prompt removal of ticks may help prevent disease transmission. To remove an attached tick:

• Carefully grasp the tick with fine pointed tweezers, as close to the skin as possible.

• Gently but firmly pull the tick straight out.

• Do not twist, burn or apply irritants to the tick. Avoid mashing or squeezing the body of the tick.

• Wash hands and the bite area with soap and water.

• Bathe or shower after coming indoors – within two hours – to wash off any unattached ticks.

• Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for one hour to kill remaining ticks.

Tick-Safe Zone

To create a tick-safe zone to reduce ticks in the yard:

• Remove leaf litter.

• Clear tall grasses and brush from around the home.

• Place a three-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration.

• Mow the lawn frequently.

• Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.

• Remove old furniture, mattresses or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

The CDC has launched a free mobile app to assist with tick identification that is available through your usual app store, Tickborne Diseases.

To identify a tick, place it in a jar or Ziploc bag with a piece of cotton or tissue moistened with water (not alcohol) and bring to Siskiyou County Community Development – Environmental Health.

For further information on identification call 530-841-2100.

Testing for Lyme Disease is available through Shasta County Public Health Lab for a fee.

For information on Lyme Disease visit www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/TickBorneDiseases.aspx.

For questions related to Lyme Disease contact Siskiyou County Public Health at 530-841-2134 and ask to speak to the Nurse of the Day.