Ticks don't social distance
After weeks of park closures, counties are beginning to relax shelter-in-place orders by allowing access to parks and other outdoor areas so residents can exercise, take walks, and enjoy the warm weather.
Officials at the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District are reminding residents that ticks are active year-round and to take preventative measures when engaging in outdoor activities.
The most common ticks in Marin and Sonoma counties are the American dog tick, Pacific Coast tick, and the western black-legged tick. All three of these ticks can transmit a variety of tick-borne diseases, but only the western black-legged tick can transmit Lyme disease.
Adult western black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) are commonly found fall through early spring, while the tiny nymphs are most active in the spring and early summer. Both stages of this tick can transmit Lyme disease.
Ticks can be found in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, especially along sides of trails. Adult ticks wait on the tips of vegetation for people or other animal hosts to pass by, while nymphs are commonly found in leaf litter, on logs, and on mossy rocks.
Personal protection measures to be taken prior to, during, and after being in tick habitat include:
- Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants.
- Clothing and equipment can be pre-treated with a permethrin product to kill ticks.
- Apply an EPA-registered repellent that is effective against ticks, such as DEET (at least 20% concentration), picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on exposed skin to repel ticks.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks after you come indoors.
- Shower after being in tick habitat to detect ticks.
- Remove ticks promptly by using tweezers to grasp the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible, then pull straight out.
- Contact your physician if you have concerns or become ill after being bitten by a tick.