The San Bernardino County Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) Mosquito and Vector Control Program (MVCP) has confirmed that two adult western black-legged ticks that were collected on January 29 tested positive for a bacteria that may cause Lyme disease in humans.
According to information from the county’s Department of Public Health the department routinely checks for the presence of this bacteria in local ticks in San Bernardino County. These ticks were collected about four miles north of Yucaipa along Hwy. 38 on a hiking trail. This marks the first finding of the bacteria during a tick survey in San Bernardino County since 1991.
Lyme disease is a preventable illness. In California, Lyme disease is spread to humans and animals from the bite of an infected western black-legged tick. Typical Lyme disease symptoms may include fever, headaches, fatigue and a rash that resembles a bull’s-eye that appears near the site of the bite.
“Lyme disease is still a significant concern in the U.S. and it a threat to public health,” said DEHS Division Chief Corwin Porter. “We would like everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases,” he said. In general, an infected tick must be attached and feeding for at least 36 to 48 hours before it can spread the bacteria. While the risk of getting Lyme disease is low, residents are still encouraged to protect themselves and their families.
The county cautions people to pay close attention to being safe and adhering to the following suggestions:
* Avoid areas where ticks are known to occur.
* Stay in the middle of trails; avoid grassy areas and contact with logs, tree trunks and fallen branches or tree limbs in forests.
* Use a repellent registered for use against ticks. Repellents with DEET are effective and can be applied to the skin. Repellents with permethn should be applied only to clothing. Always follow directions on repellant containers. Be especially careful when applying it to children.
* Thoroughly check yourself and others for ticks during, immediately after and up to three days after activities in tick-infested areas.
* Shower immediately after engaging in outdoor activities where ticks occur. Keep grass along trails, buildings and camping areas mown.
* If you find a tick attached to your skin grasp it with tweezers or a tissue (never with bare hands) as close to your skin as possible.
* Firmly grasp the tick from the skin. Do not jerk, twist or unscrew the tick.
* Do not attempt to remove it by burning with cigarettes or by applying Vaseline or Kerosene.
* Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after removing the tick.
* Apply an antiseptic to the bite area.
* Save the tick for identification. Contact the San Bernardino County MVCP to determine if the tick is a species of tick that is capable of transmitting Lyme disease.
* Consult your physician if the tick cannot be removed or part of it is left in the skin, or if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms within 30 days of the tick bite.
For more information contact the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Services at (800) 442-2383. Visit the website at: http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/dehs.