More Ticks Test Positive for Tularemia

County Vector Control officials said Friday that several more batches of ticks trapped along Lopez Canyon Trail in Sorrento Valley have tested positive for tularemia, a potentially dangerous bacterial disease also known as “rabbit fever.”

County officials are reminding people again to protect themselves and their pets from ticks — which can transmit tularemia and other diseases when they bite people — whenever they are hiking, bicycling or walking in grassy backcountry areas, on trails or in the wild.

Vector Control officials said last week that several batches of ticks trapped in routine monitoring in the area of Lopez Canyon Trail had tested positive for the disease. Because they are small, ticks are “batched” together into larger groups to conduct testing.

County officials said they posted signs warning people to protect themselves from ticks last week and have posted additional signs in the wake of the new find. Officials said County trappers will also expand tick trapping in the area. Officials said the best ways for people to protect themselves against being bitten by ticks include wearing insect repellent and proper clothing and using insect control products that kill fleas and ticks on their pets.

Vector Control officials said they have been finding increased numbers of ticks this year around the county, although the ones collected in Sorrento Valley were the only ones that have tested positive for any disease.

The County’s Vector Control Program monitors the population of vectors — animals like ticks, fleas, rodents and mosquitoes — that can transmit diseases to people.

Ticks are tiny, eight-legged parasites related to spiders. They crawl out on leaves and vegetation and extend their hooked front legs to latch onto passing animals and people, then bite and feed on blood. Even though tick diseases are rare in San Diego County, they have also been known to carry other diseases including Lyme disease and spotted fever illnesses.

Tularemia can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but can be dangerous and even fatal.

County public health officials said anyone who is bitten by a tick should not panic, but carefully remove it. They said if a person develops a rash or fever within several weeks of being bitten they should see a doctor, tell them about the tick bite, when they were bitten and where they think it happened.

Here are seven easy tips to help you protect yourself, your family and pets from ticks:

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.”

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact