Images courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Ticks are blood-sucking arthropods that can transmit a wide variety of diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF), tularemia, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and erlichiosis. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Placer County.
- Ticks can be found most commonly in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, especially along sides of trails.
- Ticks do not fly, jump, or fall out of trees! Ticks wait on tips of grasses and leaves for people or other animals to pass by. When a tick grabs on to a passing animal, it will then crawl in search of a good place to attach to the skin.
- Once attached, the tick will secrete a cement-like substance that helps it stay in place to feed.
- The longer the tick stays attached, the higher the risk of disease transmission to the animal it is attached to.
- A feeding tick can remain attached for many hours or days, after which it will drop off the host.
Tick Species of Concern in Placer County
Western Black-Legged Tick
This tick is usually found in areas with high humidity from October to May. Larvae and nymphs feed on small animals like rodents and lizards. Adults feed on larger mammals including humans and deer. This tick is the primary vector for Lyme disease in Placer County.
Pacific Coast Tick
This tick is usually found in areas with high humidity from November to June. Larvae and nymphs feed on small rodents while adults feed on large mammals, especially deer. This tick is a vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
American Dog Tick
This tick is usually found from May to August. Larvae and nymphs feed on smaller mammals, while adults feed on larger mammals, especially dogs. This tick is a vector for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
This tick looks different than the others because it is a member of the soft-tick family. This tick is usually found in mountain cabins and other dwellings. Their primary hosts are rodents, but these ticks will also bite humans, and are a primary vector for tick-borne relapsing fever in Placer County.
Protect Yourself and Your Family from Ticks
- Protect yourself from ticks. Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see them if they are on your clothes and tuck your pants into your socks when you are walking, hiking, or working in tick areas. Repellents containing at least 20% DEET will repel ticks as well as mosquitoes. Discourage ticks around your house by keeping grass mowed, cutting back dense vegetation, and removing debris piles.
- Perform regular tick checks. Check your entire body for ticks for several days after you have been in tick habitat. Pay close attention to the hairline, waistline, armpits, and other places where clothing is constricted. Carefully examine children and pets.
- Remove attached ticks immediately. Removing ticks promptly can reduce the risk of transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
- Seek medical attention if you become ill after a tick bite.
The Ds of Tick-borne Disease Prevention
- DEET – use a formulation of 20% DEET or higher if you will be in tick habitat
- Dress protectively by covering as much exposed skin with clothing, wearing light-colored long pants and sleeves
- Discourage ticks from around your home by clearing debris and dense vegetation
- Do regular tick checks for several days after being in tick habitat
- Detach ticks immediately using the proper technique:
Proper Tick Removal
- Do not squish, burn, smother, or twist ticks.
- Use tweezers to grasp the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull straight out.
- Use gloves, tissue or other barrier if you must use your fingers to remove the tick.
- Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after tick removal.
A localized reaction or infections can occur where the tick was attached. If redness or pain develops at the bite site, consult your doctor.