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Health Alerts & Advisories

Archived Health Alerts & Advisories - Current Water Quality Information

Post Date  Information
Oct 22, 2018
Public Health Provider Advisory

Local Increase in Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Cases

Since September 1st, the Santa Cruz County Public Health Division has received 16 reports of new pertussis cases, including several cases associated with outbreaks at two local schools. The largest outbreak, at an elementary school in Aptos, includes 8 confirmed pertussis cases across kindergarten through 5th grade classes, with 55% of the kindergartners becoming cases. Unvaccinated students account for 75% of the confirmed cases at the school. The Communicable Disease Unit is managing the outbreaks and assisting the schools in infection control through exposure notices to parents, exclusion of symptomatic students and staff, and recommendations to seek medical evaluation and treatment should symptoms occur.

Due to the recent events, Santa Cruz County Public Health officials recommend that local medical providers consider pertussis in any individual presenting with a progressive cough illness lasting longer than one week, particularly if posttussive vomiting and/or paroxysmal coughing occurs. Be aware that early symptoms may resemble a common cold and that vaccinated individuals may present with milder symptoms. Read More

Sept 18, 2018
Public Health Press Release

Public Health Officials Announce "It's Time to Get Vaccinated for the Flu!"

The County of Santa Cruz Public Health urges everyone six months and older to get vaccinated early before the virus starts going around. The flu vaccine helps stop the spread of the flu and protects everyone’s health. The start of the flu season is unpredictable, and the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective.

Vaccines are available at doctors’ offices, and many pharmacies provide free and low-cost flu vaccinations to the public. “Flu shots are the best way to protect yourself, your family, and the community from becoming seriously ill with the flu,” said County Health Officer, Dr. Arnold Leff.

It is important to get the flu vaccine every year because flu strains change over time. Timely flu shots help prevent a disease that hospitalizes hundreds of thousands and kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. Read More

Sept 2018
Public Health Provider Advisory

2018-19 Influenza Season Bulletin for Health Providers

Topics includes:

  • NEW FOR 2018-19! CHANGES IN REQUIRED INFLUENZA REPORTING
  • HEALTH CARE WORKER VACCINATION ORDER
  • VACCINATION
  • INFLUENZA ANTIVIRAL MEDICATION
  • SPECIMEN COLLECTION & TESTING

Click here to read 2018-19 Influenza Season Bulletin

Visit our Influenza (Flu) Information Page

Sept 7, 2018
CDC Health Advisory

Advice to Clinicians about Leptospirosis in U.S. Travelers Returning from Northern Israel

The Israeli Ministry of Health is reporting an outbreak of leptospirosis in persons with exposure to natural water sources in the Golan Heights region of northern Israel after July 1, 2018. As of September 6, 2018, three persons with leptospirosis who traveled to Israel have been identified in the United States, with additional suspected cases reported and under investigation. Early symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, conjunctival suffusion (conjunctival redness without exudates), jaundice, and sometimes a rash. Clinicians should consider leptospirosis as a diagnosis in any patient who develops an acute febrile illness within 4 weeks of travel to one of the areas in northern Israel listed below since July 1, 2018. Read More

Sept 5, 2018
Public Health Advisory

Order for Licensed Healthcare Facilities to Implement a Mandatory Influenza Prevention Program for Health Care Workers

Influenza infection accounts for up to 49,000 excess deaths in the US each year and approximately 200,000 hospitalizations. Health Care Workers (HCWs) are both at risk for influenza and can transmit the virus to their vulnerable patients. Influenza vaccination of HCWs protects medically fragile patients and reduces employee absenteeism during influenza season.

State law requires that acute care hospitals and certain employers offer influenza vaccinations to employees or have the employee sign a declination statement if they choose not to be vaccinated. While compliance to these existing laws is high, actual HCW vaccination rates are not and may be below that which will blunt the spread of infection in a health care setting. Mandatory vaccination with masking policies have been shown to increase HCW vaccination rates to above 90%. Read More

August 13, 2018
Public Health Advisory

Aeromonas Infection
Current Situation: In late July, Aeromonas was identified in the stool of an out-of-state traveler who developed gastrointestinal symptoms following a visit to Santa Cruz County. From July 15-19, a large group of friends and family traveled to Santa Cruz County, visiting several sites throughout the area. Of the twenty travelers, seven developed gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and inappetence, with about half the cases’ symptoms progressing to vomiting after several days. The confirmed Aeromonas case is an infant whose symptoms persisted for 11 days, until antibiotics were administered with symptoms largely resolving within 12 hours. Currently, the Aeromonas infection is suspected to have been locally acquired during the trip.

All cases deny recent consumption of seafood. The group of travelers report several potential points of exposure, including a Felton RV/campsite and Santa Cruz city’s Main Beach and San Lorenzo River mouth. Additional lab results are pending as several of the travelers are still ill, including one child with intussusception. Environmental sampling of the potential sites of exposure is in progress. Read More

Public Health Advisory: August 13, 2018: Aeromonas infection

July 16, 2018
Public Health Advisory

Increase in Cyclosporiasis San Francisco Bay Area

Current Situation: Since May 2018, there has been an increase in the reported number of Cyclospora cayetanensis infections (i.e., cyclosporiasis) in the San Francisco Bay Area. The reasons for the increase in reported cases, including sources of infection, are unknown but are under active investigation. As of July 9, 2018, a total of 50 patients with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infection without a history of international travel have been reported, mainly from the San Francisco Bay Area. Reported illness onset occurred in May and June 2018, mostly among adults. The recent increase of cyclosporiasis in California appears to be unrelated to the large outbreak of cyclosporiasis in several Midwestern states that has been linked to pre-packaged Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays, as the recalled lots were not distributed in California. Read More

Public Health Advisory: July 16, 2018: Increase in Cyclosporiasis San Francisco Bay Area

June 22, 2018
Press Release

West Nile Virus Found in Santa Cruz County
The California Department of Public Health / West Nile virus program notified the County of Santa Cruz Thursday, June 21 of this summer’s first find of a West Nile virus (WNV) positive dead bird in Santa Cruz County. The bird, an American Crow with an acute infection, was submitted by Mosquito and Vector Control (MVC) on June 13 and obtained from a resident in Live Oak near 30th Ave between Moran Lake and Pleasure Point.

WNV is primarily a bird virus that can affect humans and other animals and can be spread by the bite of summer mosquitoes. In humans, symptoms of infection range from no symptoms to fever and flu-like illness to serious illness affecting the central nervous system in less than 1% of cases. Read More

Press Release: June 22, 2018: West Nile Virus Found in Santa Cruz County

June 11, 2018
Press Release

Cough That Won’t Quit? Think Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
The number of cases of whooping cough in Santa Cruz County has more than doubled during the first four months of 2018. In January through April of this year, 11 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough were confirmed, compared to 5 cases in the same period of 2017.

“Pertussis disease rates are cyclic, peaking every 3 to 5 years. The last epidemic in California was 2014. We don’t know yet if 2018 or 2019 will turn out to be peak years, but vigilance is in order,” said Naomi Lobell, Immunization Coordinator for Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency.

Dr. Arnold Leff, the County Health Officer emphasized the importance of immunizations. “Pertussis is covered in the DTaP shot, given to babies at age 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12 months. Booster shots are given again before kindergarten and middle school. Summer is a good time to get immunizations, so students are ready for school in the fall. Adults who have never received a dose of Tdap should also get vaccinated against pertussis,” stated Dr. Leff. Read More

Press Release: June 11, 2018: Cough That Won’t Quit? Think Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

May 14, 2018
Press Release

County Public Health Officials Urge Caution on How to Avoid Hantavirus following Diagnosis in Santa Cruz County Resident

Santa Cruz County health officials offer recommendations on how to avoid hantavirus following the recent diagnosis of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in a local resident. HPS is a rare disease. Infection is caused by a virus that individuals contract through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of wild rodents, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings stirred up into the air when entering or cleaning buildings or enclosed spaces where mice are present is the most common means of infection. The illness begins with fever, headache, and muscle aches and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty breathing and, in some cases, death. Prompt diagnosis and medical treatment increase an individual's chances of recovery. Read More

April 23, 2018
Press Release

County, Medical Reserve Corps Test County's First-Ever Mobile Medical Hospital

The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency and members of the County's Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) on Monday, April 24th 2018 began training exercises using the County's first-ever Mobile Medical Hospital.

Awarded by the State of California Emergency Medical Services Authority and housed at Watsonville Community Hospital, the Mobile Medical Hospital enhances our disaster response capabilities by increasing our resiliency and expanding the resources available to assist residents in the event of a natural or man-made emergency. Read More

April 10, 2018
Press Release

Measles in San Francisco Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA - Since early March, there have been cases of measles in the Bay Area, including 5 confirmed cases in Santa Clara County as of April 4, 2018.

Although the general public is at very low risk of measles as a result of these cases, measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease. “The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine preventable diseases is by immunization,” says Dr. Arnold Leff, Health Officer for Santa Cruz County. Two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine provide long-lasting protection against measles. Those who have previously been infected with measles are also protected from being infected with measles again. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get the first dose at 12–15 months of age, and the second dose at 4–6 years of age. Measles vaccination protects not just the person being vaccinated, but the community around them, including babies less than 12 months old who are too young to be vaccinated and cancer patients. Read More

April 3, 2018
Press Release

CDPH Warns Consumers Not to Eat Sport-Harvested Bivalve Shellfish
SANTA CRUZ – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams or whole scallops from Santa Cruz County. Dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins have been detected in mussels from this area. The naturally occurring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin.

Health advisories due to PSP are also in place for Alameda and Contra Costa, Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo counties. These health advisories apply to the entirety of the counties including inside the San Francisco Bay.

This warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources. State law permits only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.

Early symptoms of PSP include tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes after eating toxic shellfish. These symptoms are typically followed by loss of balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur. Read More

March 14, 2018

Bilingual Ad Campaign Exposes Dangers of Flavored Tobacco Products
Santa Cruz County, CA -- Looks Like Candy. Tastes Like Candy. Kills Like Tobacco. That’s the message Santa Cruz County residents will see in English and Spanish on busses, movie screens, and a Freedom Boulevard billboard, beginning this week. The ads are part of a public health campaign about the dangers of flavored tobacco products.

“Products like e-cigarettes, little cigars, and smokeless tobacco use sweet flavors like cherry, chocolate and mint to appeal to youth,” said Andrea Solano, Project Director of the The Santa Cruz County Tobacco Control Program. “Flavors mask the harsh taste of the tobacco and keep kids smoking long enough to get them hooked.” Read More

Jan. 4, 2018

2017-18 Influenza Season Update

Local influenza cases have jumped in recent weeks. Influenza-like illness (ILI) rates have been higher than usual nearly every week this season, based on data from sentinel providers. This could just reflect an earlier-than-usual season, but it could also indicate a worse-than-usual season, like the one just experienced in the Southern hemisphere. The first institutional influenza outbreak was reported to Public Health just before the end of the year. Read More

Ongoing

Hepatitis A Virus Outbreak in Santa Cruz County

COUNTY DECLARES END TO LOCAL HEPATITIS A OUTBREAK

Santa Cruz County Public Health Officer Dr. Arnold Leff on Tuesday declared an end to the hepatitis A outbreak that began afflicting local patients in April 2017.

Overall, Santa Cruz County saw 76 confirmed cases of hepatitis A, including one death where hepatitis A was a contributing factor. To address the outbreak, the County conducted widespread outreach with the public, local businesses and impacted populations, consulted with top state public health officials and held several free vaccine clinics.

Hepatitis A: Information & Resources

Number of Confirmed Hepatitis A Cases by Week (4/1/17 through 11/2/17)

Advisories, Press Releases and Letters:

Sept. 9, 2017
Public Health Exposure Notice

It is possible that you have been exposed to hepatitis A virus if you have consumed food prepared at Boulder Creek Redwood Keg Liquor and Deli between August 15 and September 7th. Read More

July 28, 2017
CDPH Press Release
Pregnant Women Urged to Avoid Going to Areas with Zika Risk
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) advises pregnant women, and men and women of child bearing age, not to go to areas with Zika. If they must go to places with known transmission of the Zika virus, CDPH recommends they protect themselves against sexual transmission of Zika and take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Pregnant couples in which one or both partners were in an area with Zika should use condoms every time they have sex, or not have sex during the pregnancy in order to reduce the risk of transmitting Zika to the fetus. Read More
July 25, 2017
CDPH Press Release

CDPH Urges Caution on How to Avoid Hantavirus following Diagnosis in Northern California Man

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reminds individuals to take precautions when entering cabins, trailers and other buildings that may be infested with rodents after the recent diagnosis of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in a Northern California man.

“Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a rare, but often fatal disease spread by rodents,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “The chances of getting the virus are greatest when entering or cleaning buildings, or other closed spaces, where wild rodents are present.”

HPS is caused by a virus that individuals contract through contact with the urine, droppings or saliva of wild rodents, primarily deer mice. Breathing small particles of mouse urine or droppings that have been stirred up into the air is the most common means of infection. The illness begins with fever, headache, and muscle aches and progresses rapidly to severe difficulty breathing and, in some cases, death.
Read More

July 20, 2017
CDPH Press Release

Valley Fever Cases Increase in California in 2016

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today a large increase in the number of reported Valley Fever cases in California with illness onset in 2016.

From January through December 2016, 5,372 new cases of Valley Fever were reported to CDPH corresponding to an incidence rate of 13.7 cases per 100,000 people. This is very similar to the most recent peak in 2011 (5,213 cases), which was the highest number of cases since individual cases were made reportable in 1995. 

“People who live in or travel to areas where Valley Fever is common should take steps to avoid breathing in dusty air,” said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “If they develop flu-like symptoms, such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, lasting two weeks or more, they should ask their doctor about Valley Fever.” Read More

July 14, 2017
Public
Health
Alert

West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected for the first time in 2017 in Santa Cruz County

  • A dead bird has tested positive for an acute infection of the virus.
  • An acute infection of a dead bird indicates that there are mosquitoes in the area that can transmit the infection.
  • The bird was found in the East Santa Cruz near Soquel Avenue on Morrissey Boulevard.
  • There has been WNV activity in many counties of the state.
  • As of today, there have been 3 human cases reported this year in the state.
  • Read More
June 5, 2017
CA Dept. of Public
Health Alert

Salmonella Infections Linked to Contact with Live Poultry

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning people of the risks of Salmonella infection associated with contact with live poultry. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that from January 2017 through May 25, 2017, 372 ill persons in 47 states have been infected with several Salmonella strains that have been linked to live poultry contact; 36% are children younger than 5 years old. Seventy-one ill persons have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. Infected persons include 21 California residents from 15 counties.

Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, and usually begin 12 to 72 hours after a person has been infected. Most infected people recover within a week without treatment. However, some people may have severe illness that requires hospitalization. Young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness.

Outbreaks linked to contact with live poultry have increased in recent years as more people keep backyard flocks. Read More

CA Dept of Public Health Advisory - en español

May 18, 2017
Public
Health
Press Release

Potential for Norovirus Outbreak in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County Health Agency is concerned about the potential for a significant norovirus outbreak in Santa Cruz County. We have already had an outbreak at a Boulder Creek camp with 28 children plus staff sickened.

There have been over 1200 cases in Yolo County schools and at least 200 students in ten schools in the San Jose Unified School District.

Though this virus is common, this is an unusually high incidence of cases. Norovirus is generally a mild illness with associated nausea, vomiting and diarrhea lasting from 1-3 days. People are infectious prior to symptoms and for several days after symptoms begin. The primary danger is dehydration which, in severe cases can lead to hospitalization. People with vomiting and or diarrhea should stay home for at least 48 hours after symptoms have stopped. Read More

Public Health Press Release

May 17, 2017
Medical Provider
Health
Notification

 

Outbreak of Foodborne Botulism in Sacramento Region: Delayed Identification of Some Patients

CDPH is working with local public health departments in the Sacramento region to investigate an outbreak of foodborne botulism linked to consumption of nacho cheese sauce at a Sacramento County gas station. Identification of botulism has been delayed for some patients.

While foodborne botulism is rare, it should be considered in patients presenting with weakness that initially affects cranial nerves. Local public health departments should be notified immediately of any suspected case of botulism to facilitate treatment and disease prevention. Foodborne botulism has been associated with a variety of foods and does not always involve home-canned foods.

Click here to view information regarding delayed identification of some patients.

May 11, 2017
Public
Health
Advisory

Above Average Incidence of Acute Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Infection – 2017
Request for vigilance in case recognition and reporting
Recommendation for prophylactic vaccination against HAV

Current situation:
Santa Cruz County has experienced a higher than average number of acute Hepatitis A virus infection cases over the past month. These newly identified cases share one or more of the following characteristics: illicit drug use (injection and non-injection), homelessness, and/or dense living conditions. Of concern is the fact that there have been recent, serious and widespread outbreaks of Hepatitis A in similar identified populations in other counties.

Santa Cruz County Public Health officials are concerned that some of our community’s most vulnerable members are currently at increased risk due to shared activities and living conditions. Read More

Public Health Alert

May 10, 2017
CA Dept. of Public
Health Alert

 

Consumers Warned Not to Drink Herbal Teas Produced by U.S. Deer Antlers Exports and Imports Inc. Due to Botulism Risk

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today warned consumers not to drink herbal tea in plastic pouches produced by U.S. Deer Antlers Exports and Imports Inc. due to concerns the teas may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. Ingestion of botulism toxin from improperly processed liquid teas may lead to serious illness and death. CDPH is investigating two possible cases of botulism in Orange County residents, both of whom consumed U.S. Deer Antlers Exports and Imports Inc. herbal tea products in March. Read More

CA Dept of Public Health Advisory

March 24, 2017
Public
Health
Advisory for Medical Providers

STD Rates On the Rise in Santa Cruz County

  • Rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are dramatically rising in Santa Cruz County, in California, and across the United States. In Santa Cruz County, syphilis rates have increased 308% while gonorrhea rates have increased 448% since 2010.
  • April is STD Awareness Month and the Health Services Agency will be doing community messaging on STDs which may result in more questions from your patients and more requests for testing. Visit www.santacruzhealth.org/SEX to learn more.
  • Medical providers are critical in helping control the spread of infection by appropriately screening and testing patients, providing timely treatment for patients and their partners, and reporting cases to the Communicable Disease Unit via STD Confidential Morbidity Reports. Read More

Public Health Advisory

April 18, 2016
Public
Health
Advisory

Mosquitos are Taking Flight - Inspect your yard for and standing water

On Tuesday, April 19, at their public meeting on or after 9:00 a.m. the County Board of Supervisors reviewed a report presented by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Mosquito and Vector Control (MVC) district, in collaboration with the Health Services Agency, about local response plans for invasive mosquitoes and exotic diseases new to California.

In addition to our native mosquitoes, there are two invasive mosquitoes species that have recently been found in parts of California: Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito).

These mosquitoes are more aggressive than our native mosquitoes, are black-and-white striped, and tend to bite people during the day. They lay their eggs in very small containers of water (bottles, buckets, plant saucers) and prefer living in and around homes. They are responsible for transmitting the diseases dengue, chikungunya, and most recently Zika in various parts of the world.

Currently, all California cases of these diseases can be attributed to recent travel to other parts of the world, and are not due to local transmission. Santa Cruz County Mosquito Vector Control (VC) has increased surveillance this year by deploying more traps throughout the county, but theystill need the public’s help in reporting day-biting mosquitoes and maintaining dry backyards so that these mosquitoes do not make their way into Santa Cruz County.

Spring and summer is also the season for mosquitoes that can spread West Nile virus (WNV). Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance, but also a public health threat. WNV is transmitted from birds to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The California Department of Public Health reported 783 human WNV cases from 31 counties in 2015.

This year has brought some heavy rains intermixed with longer warm periods. This type of weather pattern might lead to slightly earlier breeding of spring and summer mosquitoes. In warmer months, it takes seven to ten days for a mosquito egg to develop into a flying blood- sucking insect. A female mosquito can lay between 50 to 200 eggs at a time, so a neglected swimming pool for example, can produce hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes and infest an entire neighborhood.

It is critical that residents empty water-holding containers in-between rains and properly seal septic systems and water-conserving containers like rain barrels. Instructions for “mosquito-proofing” rain barrels can be found on our website at agdept.com/mvc.html.

During this time, please remember to:

  • Report dead birds by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2463) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov
  • Dump and drain standing water sources around your property. Obtain mosquito-eating fish for free by calling the district.
  • Report neglected swimming pools and other backyard sources, and day-biting mosquitoes to Mosquito and Vector Control at (831) 454-2590, agdept.com/mvc.html, or visit our office: 640 Capitola Rd. Santa Cruz

April 19th-25th is Mosquito and Vector Control and West Nile Virus Awareness Week, as declared by the California Legislature.

Ongoing Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases

Spring is a time of high tick activity in our coastal hills and residents should be aware when spending time outdoors. Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control (SCCMVC) staff and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) collaborate to collect and test ticks in the County. At least 2% of Western black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) tested in recent years contain the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. In 2013, there were 5 reported cases of Lyme disease in Santa Cruz County, about the annual average (1.66 cases per 100,000 people).

The western black legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) and other human biting ticks found in Santa Cruz County such as the Pacific Coast tick (Dermacentor occidentalis) may carry other tick-borne diseases. Thus, SCCMVC plans to conduct surveys for these tick species and will submit them to the CDPH for testing. Because of tick-borne disease risk, residents are advised to take precautions to protect themselves from tick bites.

The tick starts out as an egg then matures into a larva, nymph and adult stage over several years. The nymph life stage is active in spring and summer, and is found on tree trunks, fallen logs, wooden benches and in leaf litter and feed on smaller animals, but they will also attach to people and pets. Adult ticks are active in fall when they climb to the tips of vegetation, often alongside trails or paths, and attach themselves to hosts, such as deer, pets or humans that brush against them.

Ticks feed by sticking their mouthparts into the skin of their host and sucking blood. Infections such as Lyme disease may be transmitted when the feeding tick is attached for at least a day. Immature ticks are about the size of a pinhead, and may be missed without careful examination.

The risk of being bitten by ticks may be reduced with the following precautions:

  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck pant legs into boots or socks and tuck shirts into pants.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily seen.
  • Use a repellent registered for use against ticks; always follow label directions.
  • Stay in the middle of a trail and avoid logs, tree trunks, trail margins, brush and grassy areas.
  • Inspect yourself frequently while in tick habitat. Once out of tick habitat, thoroughly check your entire body and pets. Parents should examine their children, especially on the scalp and hairline.
  • Shower and launder clothes soon after activity in tick habitat.

To reduce the possibility of infection, remove attached ticks as soon as possible. Gently and firmly grasp the tick close to the head and pull it straight out, preferably with a tick tool or with fine-pointed tweezers. Save the tick for identification. Ticks should be kept alive by placing the tick into a sealable bag or container with a moist cotton ball in a refrigerator or cooler. The person removing the tick should wash their hands before and after removal and apply antiseptic to the bite area. Insecticides, Vaseline, lighted matches or gasoline should not be used to remove ticks because these techniques are ineffective or unsafe. Anyone who develops symptoms after being bitten by a tick should consult his or her physician.

Painful redness that occurs less than 24 hours after a tick bite and does not expand is likely a local allergic reaction to the tick bite. Early Lyme disease also has a rash but the Lyme disease rash appears three to 30 days after the tick bite, is often painless, and spreads to greater than 5 cm in diameter. The spreading rash can be accompanied by flu like symptoms, such as fever and body aches. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and most patients recover without complications, particularly when the disease is diagnosed early. If left untreated, Lyme disease can progress to arthritis and in some cases serious nervous system problems.

Individuals should consult their physician immediately if symptoms similar to those described for Lyme disease develop within one to several weeks after being bitten by a tick.

Click here to view the media release

Prevent Tick Bite - Pamphlet provided by CDPH

Additional information on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases

Current Water Quality Information - Archived Health Alerts & Advisories