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Ticks Carrying Lyme Disease Found in Parks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in Tapia Park and adjacent Malibu Creek State Park, Los Angeles County health officials reported Tuesday.

The first confirmed Lyme disease-bearing tick in Los Angeles County was found last year in Topanga State Park, which, like Malibu Creek and Tapia, is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

“We found 37 male and 28 female ticks in that area, and they were divided into seven pools of eight to 10,” said Dr. Roshan Reporter of the Los Angeles Department of Health Services acute communicable disease control unit. “Two of the pools were positive for Lyme disease.”

That means at least two, possibly more, ticks carried the disease that is transmitted to humans and animals through bites.

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The ticks were found in low brush and grass along several trails of the 7,000-acre Malibu Creek State Park and the nearly mile-long Tapia Spur Trail in nearby Tapia Park. That trail leads into a Malibu Creek campground.

Only the western black-legged tick carries Lyme disease, which Reporter said can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms include spreading rash, fever and body aches that if untreated, Reporter said, may develop into long-term illness with complications such as arthritis, irregular heart beat or neurological symptoms.

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Health officials said ticks carrying Lyme disease are rarely found in Southern California.

“We don’t have as many ticks here as in Northern California, because it’s a lot drier here,” Reporter said. “We really haven’t seen much Lyme disease here.”

Still, she cautions those hiking in local areas surrounded by brush to regularly conduct tick checks.

Additional information and brochures on ticks can be obtained by calling the acute communicable disease control unit at (213) 240-7941.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Vector control officials recommend the following precautions to avoid contact with ticks:

* Wear long, light-colored clothes so ticks can be spotted easily. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and tuck shirttails into pants.

* Use tick repellent spray such as DEET or permethrin on the outside of clothes.

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* When walking on trails, stay in the center to avoid brush and tall grass.

* Remove clothes after outdoor activities and inspect your body carefully for ticks. Checks pets as well.

* Carefully remove any attached ticks by grasping them as close to your skin as possible and pulling them with slow, steady force.

For more information, call the Los Angeles County West Vector Control District at (310) 915-7370, or the Vector Management Program at

(323) 881-4046.

SOURCE: Vector Management Program


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