Ticks carrying potentially fatal disease found near Peñasquitos Canyon

A female tick ( stuck in the arm skin of a man Photo: Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Vector Control reminded residents Friday to protect themselves and their pets after finding ticks carrying tularemia, a potentially fatal bacterial disease, along Lopez Canyon Trail.

Tularemia, colloquially known as rabbit fever, can be treated with antibiotics but can also make people seriously ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are most likely to be infected with tularemia by a tick bite.

The disease can also be found in wild hares, rabbits and rodents in San Diego County. According to Vector Control, the county has not confirmed a case of tularemia in a person since 2005.

It’s the first discovery of tularemia in the county this year, but Vector Control officials found several infected ticks last year. Ticks can also carry diseases like Lyme disease and spotted fever, but tick-borne diseases are generally rare in San Diego County.

Residents can avoid risking contact with ticks by staying on designated hiking trails and pathways and refraining from touching grass, brush and wild rodents. The insects can also latch onto clothing and bite a host after they’ve left a trail or campground. If bitten, the CDC recommends removing the tick with tweezers by grabbing as close to its head as possible so as not to leave any part of it within the body.

Residents can learn more about tick-borne illnesses on the county Department of Environmental Health’s website, sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/deh/pests/ticks.html. The CDC also has a section on its website focused on ticks, located at cdc.gov/ticks/index.html.

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