With the sun returning, many San Diegans are itching to get outside and hike but county officials are warning hikers about an even itchier situation -- the beginning of tick season.
San Diego County officials warn residents that they should protect themselves and their pets whenever they're about to roam around brushy, grassy areas.
Several important precautions can help prevent these little critters from infesting people and their pets, said County officials.
The most important precaution is to use insect repellent, that preferably contains DEET, and use similar flea and tick control products for animals, said County officials. After spending time outdoors, frequently check your clothes, gear and pets. Ticks can easily hitchhike into your home through clothes and pets.
Don't forget to shower after exposure to chapparal-covered areas, according to County officials. Ticks are often found in high grasses, yards, trees and shrubs.
Parents should check children under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind knees, between the legs, around the waist and in the hair, according to an article by the CDC. Also be sure to inspect pets, packs and gear before bringing them into the home, said County officials.
Stay in the designated pathways when hiking in open space or canyon areas. County officials say it's also best to stay on wide trails if possible and walk in the center.
Light-colored, long-sleeved clothing is best to avoid attracting ticks, said County officials. It's also helpful to tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks. The less bare skin exposed, the better.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends showering within two hours of being outdoors, conducting a full-body inspection and checking children for ticks.
Leave pets at home, or if you decide to bring them keep pets on a leash, said County officials. Take advantage of insecticide powders or tick-control sprays, if your pets haven't already been treated with a tick and flea regimen.
If a tick bite is found, don't panic. Fine-tipped tweezers are recommended to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, and pulling upward with steady, even pressure, according to the CDC.
Avoid jerking or twisting the tick, as this can cause parts of the tick to remain in the skin. Clean bite area and hands thoroughly after tick removal.
Ticks often 'quest' to find hosts by crawling on grass or brush and then thrusting their hook-like front legs up into the air, said County officials. When someone brushes against the tick, it latches on and bites.
It is important to watch out for ticks. Athough tick-borne illnesses are rare in San Diego County, they can carry dangerous diseases including Lyme disease, tularemia aka rabbit fever and spotted fever.