The discovery of ticks near beaches in Northern California warns of Lyme disease

After battling Lyme disease, Dana Parish thought she was safe from ticks when she moved from New York to the California coast. Now she’s coming back from the beach looking for ticks.

“Unfortunately, I hate teaching you, but that’s exactly what you have to do,” she said.

According to a study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, disease-carrying ticks appear in areas that have long been considered tick-free. Researchers covered the brush along the beaches of Northern California and were surprised to find large numbers of ticks in the chaparral.

Typically, forested areas of the Northeast are the epicenter for ticks in the United States. Scientists expect a tick explosion there this year because of a warm, wet winter and larger numbers of mice they feed on. More ticks mean more tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease.

Lyme disease cases have been reported in 48 states, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say nearly half a million Americans are treated for it each year. Detecting ticks early is key to avoiding Lyme disease.

Parish was infected seven years ago in New Jersey. “And within five months of that tick bite, I lost every part of my personality,” she said.

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At one point she suffered heart failure.

“I hope this study will shed light on the fact that it is here,” Parish said of California beachgoers who are more aware of the presence of ticks.

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