Western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). From left to right: Nymph, adult male, adult female.
Source: Richmond Laboratory - CDPH.
SACRAMENTO, May 27, 2009 - As the weather gets warmer, Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), reminded Californians who work or play outdoors to protect themselves from tick bites.
Ticks are found most commonly in naturally vegetated areas like woods and forests. These small insects attach to humans and other animals. Ticks then feed on the blood of their host for several days. In the spring through early summer, smaller immature ticks -- roughly the size of a poppy seed -- called "nymphs," are most active.
Ticks may carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease and can transmit the bacterium to humans while they feed. Early symptoms of Lyme disease often include a spreading rash accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches. While Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in California, ticks in California can transmit other human illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
CDPH recommends the following to avoid ticks and tick-borne diseases:
* Wear light colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts when spending time outdoors. Tuck pant legs into boots or socks and tuck shirts into pants.
* Apply repellents registered for use against ticks and stay on trails when hiking.
* Conduct a tick-check over your entire body, including the hairline, armpits, back of knees and groin, after outdoor activities, including picnicking.
* Continue to watch for ticks for up to three days, after returning from tick habitat.
* Parents should check their children thoroughly for ticks.
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