If you’re hiking around the Bay Area right now, you should be thinking about ticks. I do, and after a recent hike, was especially vigorous in checking for them, and urged my hiking partner to do so as well.

A new Stanford University study has found ticks in a dozen Bay Area parks that are carrying a mysterious bacteria that is an offshoot of Lyme disease. This is an interesting development, to say the least. The effects of Lyme disease are well-known, ranging from achy joints to fever and rashes to much worse, if left untreated. But it’s a tricky disease so if a variation of it has developed among deer ticks, it could prove problematic. (Lyme disease is, of course, far worse in the Northeastern US where almost 1 in every 3 ticks carries it. By comparison, about 1 in every 50 here carries it.)

The researchers found bacteria-carrying ticks across the area, including China Camp State Park in Marin County and the Hopland Extension Center in Mendocino. Given that other sightings were scattered (Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa), it’s a safe bet that these ticks are or will soon be spotted in Sonoma County’s parks. (A Sonoma County Regional Parks spokesperson said Wednesday that there has no been unusual tick activity reported so far this season.)

Link to the Stanford study

 Here’s a tick-prevention video that’s as amusing for its public-access shooting-style as it is informative:



Brochure on ticks from Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District (PDF)


2/26 Update: Good story from SF Chronicle on this topic 






  1. Donna Martinez

    May I copy your posting and its resources into my blog? This is a very critical issue I would hope all our guests are aware. I am especially aware of the agony that ticks can bring- we lost our dog to a tick bite and its transmission of Ehrlichia platys into her blood stream.

    February 19th, 2014 4:02 pm

  2. trailhead

    Sure. Just include a link back to the blog too.

    February 19th, 2014 4:08 pm

  3. Kevin Peer

    Readers please do not entertain a false sense of security with the estimate that “1-in-50″ ticks carry Lyme disease in the Bay Area. And if you experience any odd health symptoms within weeks or even months of getting bit by a tick, seek help with what is called a “Lyme Literate MD” or LLMD. The vast majority of MD’s of all specialties know very little about Lyme and other tick illnesses so it is important to see someone who specializes in this area of medicine.

    February 20th, 2014 11:31 am

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