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That’s right. You may not know it, but in San Diego County, winter is tick season, and San Diego County’s Vector Control Program is reminding people to remember to wear insect repellent and take simple precautions like wearing long sleeves and long pants when hiking or heading out into nature.

“Our crews are already finding a lot of ticks out there,” said Chris Conlan, supervising vector ecologist. “And even though tick-related diseases are pretty rare in San Diego, nobody wants to be bitten, or have their kids or pets bitten.”

Ticks aren’t insects; they’re tiny arachnids, like spiders, scorpions and mites. They’re also parasites that like to bite into people and pets and suck blood to feed. You’re unlikely to find them in urbanized areas, but they’ll actually hunt you down if you hike into backcountry areas or even urban canyons.

Ticks hunt by “questing” to find hosts, crawling up onto blades of grass or brush, where they perch and thrust their hook-like front legs out into the air. When a person or animal grazes up against the grass or brush, the tick latches on and looks for a place to bite and feed.

Ticks can potentially spread a bunch of diseases, including Lyme disease, tularemia—also known as “rabbit fever”—and spotted fever illness. Several batches of ticks trapped earlier this year along Lopez Canyon Trail in Sorrento Valley tested positive for tularemia.

So, if you’re thinking of taking advantage of the cooler weather to get out and enjoy a nice trip into nature, here are some handy tips to help you protect yourself, your kids and your pets!

For more information about ticks, go to the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health’s Tick Web page, and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tick Web page. You can also watch this County News Center TV video, “Tick Talk.”


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Stealthy as well

As a former avid hiker, camper and backpacker, I've had them get on me a few times and I did not feel the little critter crawling on my skin at all. Plus, one can't feel their bite. When done with your outdoor excursion, work, or whatever, check your clothing and skin,, even hair, for any unwanted guests. Then be sure to do check your pets as well. Especially the dog that's been moving through the brush hunting the source of every new smell it encounters. HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!