After battling Lyme disease, Dana Parish thought she was safe from ticks when she moved from New York to the California coast. Now she comes back from the beach and checks for ticks.
“Unfortunately, I hate to break it to you, but that’s exactly what you have to do,” she said.
Disease-carrying ticks are turning up in areas that were long believed to be tick-free, according to a study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Researchers blanketed the brush along Northern California beaches and were surprised to find large numbers of ticks in the chaparral.
Typically, wooded areas of the Northeast are the epicenter for ticks in the U.S. Scientists are expecting an explosion of ticks there this year because of a warm, wet winter and larger numbers of mice they feed on. More ticks means more tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease.
Lyme disease cases have been reported in 48 states, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly half a million Americans are treated for it every year. Finding ticks early is key to avoiding Lyme disease.
Parish was infected seven years ago in New Jersey. “And within five months of that tick bite, I lost every part of who I was,” she said.
At one point she went into heart failure.
“I hope that this study will bring light to the fact that it is here,” Parish said of California beach-goers being more aware of the presence of ticks.