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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Sharks are not only your biggest problem, Tick that causes “Lyme” is also heading to shore – scientists warn

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A tick that causes “massive infestations” is spreading across parts of the U.S., which means a potential explosion in tick-borne diseases.

The prevalence of ticks—and the diseases they carry—has been on the rise in recent decades as reforestation and climate change expanded the range of the eight-legged bacterial vectors.

Now, the results of a new study carried out by Colorado State University’s researchers surprised them when they found just as many adult black-legged ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme, in areas of grass and scrub leading to the beach they did as in the woodland habitats in the northwestern part of the state.

“We went into new habitats and found them in numbers we didn’t expect,” says corresponding lead author Daniel Salkeld, a researcher from Colorado State University.

“A few years ago I would have said the ticks there wouldn’t have been infected because there aren’t any grey squirrels, which are the source for Lyme in California.”

Bachgoers may not be expecting ticks when heading to the beach, but the tiny bugs may be hiding in coastal grasses or nearby scrub areas.

“I think they’ve been under our noses all along,” Salkeld told NBC News. “We just haven’t thought to look very closely.”

To understand this strange phenomenon at where the ticks might be hanging out, Sakeld with his team crawled public and private areas, including California state parks, county and regional parks and national parks in Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties for the blood-sucking bugs.

The team found Borrelia burgdorferi in 4.1 percent of adult ticks in coastal scrub and in 3.9 percent of adult ticks in woodland areas.

“This is a great study,” says Laura Goodman, an assistant research professor at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“There is a bias in this country where people think they are only at risk when they go into the woods. But really, prevention and vigilance should be practiced everywhere outdoors, and we should be vigilant year-round.”

Well, for Californians, at least, the ticks aren’t a all-weather problem. They’re only there during the rainy season, Sakeld said.

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