Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps for preventing Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections:
– Walk in the center of trails- Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permentrin.
– Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors, preferably within two hours.- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on cothing and pets, then attach to a person later.
– Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for up to an hour to kill remaining ticks.
– For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/lyme
Annadel State Park, the popular 5,000-acre wildland on Santa Rosa’s east flank, is a hotbed of ticks that can transmit Lyme disease, according to a Stanford University study that sampled 20 recreational areas from Sonoma County to Santa Cruz.
Researchers found six immature blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, per 100 meters on trails in Annadel, the second-highest concentration of the tiny arachnids reported in the study, which was financed by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
The only higher concentration was 10 ticks picked up along a trail in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley.
Nearly 10 percent of the ticks from Annadel tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, a condition that afflicts about 30,000 people a year nationwide and almost eight per year in Sonoma County.
Aside from some fine points overall, the study said nothing new about the county, which has a 10-year average of 1.41 Lyme disease cases per 100,000 people a year, seven times higher than the statewide rate, according to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise,” said Dan Salkeld, a disease ecologist who was the study’s lead author, regarding the Annadel tick population. “Sonoma is a beautiful place to go and look for ticks,” he said. “Other people go there for wine; I go there for ticks.”
Neill Fogarty, the supervising ranger at Annadel, said he’s accustomed to finding the immature ticks, known as nymphs, on his body after he has walked through the park, which attracts about 150,000 hikers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders annually.
“I usually pick up a few of them every year,” he said.
Of all the environments sampled, the Stanford study found that deer ticks favor live oak-dominated woodlands most of all, and Annadel has plenty of oaks — including coast live oak and black oak — on the west side of the park, around Lake Ilsanjo, Fogarty said.
Read more at: Study: Annadel State Park teeming with ticks | The Press Democrat