ARTICLE. From Medscape Psychiatry WebMD.
May 7, 2021 — Planning to hit the beach this summer? You might want to throw some bug spray into that beach bag along with your sunscreen.
For the first time, Lyme disease-carrying ticks — typically associated with woodlands in New England and other forested regions of the U.S. — have been found in abundance near beaches in Northern California, new research shows.
Daniel Salkeld, PhD, a Colorado State University research scientist who led the new study, said the findings surprised even his own team, which did not expect to discover ticks infected with Lyme disease-causing bacteria on the shoreline.
“We were a little astounded when we first found ticks in the coastal scrub — chaparral and grassland that abuts the coast — they were in abundance,” Salkeld said. “And if you’d asked at the time, I would have guessed that these ticks wouldn’t be infected with pathogens [that cause Lyme disease].
“But we did indeed find pathogens in these tick populations and that raises the question of what is the source?”
John Aucott, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, said the study is boosting new concerns about how and where Lyme disease can spread, with the prime summer beach season just weeks away.
“I was surprised by the findings,” said Aucott, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But I want to point out that that this was a California study. So I don’t want to extrapolate this necessarily to the East Coast. But I was a little surprised because on the West Coast we thought about Lyme more in the oak woodlands, and this really showed that when you looked, you found it in other places.”
And if that isn’t scary enough, Lyme disease forecasters are saying 2021 could be one for the record books.
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Infected ticks and Lyme sufferers are found in 30 countries worldwide, all 50 states in the US, 42 of the 58 counties of California, and in every park on the San Francisco Peninsula.
In 2017, more Americans were infected with Lyme disease than women who contracted breast cancer and 11 times as many as contracted HIV. Steve Diers, retired ranger and naturalist of 39 years, contracted Lyme in 1995 while working for EBMUD.
Steve strongly believes that education is the most important way to reduce your risk and increase your awareness of tick–borne diseases.