As the weather gets warmer and folks start enjoying more time in Humboldt’s beautiful outdoor areas, the City of Arcata would like to remind you of a couple of important things: you should always stay on the designated trails and beware of ticks!
“Recently, visitors at the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary have been cutting across sensitive habitat on
an undesignated footpath along Butcher’s Slough, west of the log pond,” states a press release from the City of Arcata. “This beautiful and sensitive area
is habitat to a rare plant that only grows in Humboldt County, known as Humboldt Bay owl’s clover
(Castilleja ambigua ssp. humboldtiensis). Humboldt Bay owl’s clover is considered to be a threatened
plant that grows exclusively near Humboldt Bay, and it needs plenty of undisturbed room to grow in
order to survive.”
In order to help protect the owl’s clover and other native species, Arcata’s Environmental Service Department urges you to stick to the designated trails in the Arcata Marsh and the city’s other outdoor spaces.
And protecting wildlife is not the only good reason to stay on the trails when you’re out hiking. You will also be protecting yourself from ticks!
With the warmer weather comes the increased chance of tick bites, which can potentially lead to Lyme disease. Here are some tips from the City of Arcata and the CDC on how to protect yourself and your pets from these bloodsuckers:
Ticks are tiny bugs that attach themselves to the skin of people and animals and feed on their blood. While many ticks are not harmful, some can make you sick. The Western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) is the only tick found locally that can transit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Avoiding tick bites is the easiest way to avoid tick-borne illness, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following precautions to prevent tick bites:
- Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass or fallen leaves, and stay on cleared paths and designated trails when you are out hiking.
- Wear protective clothing outdoors. If possible, wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use tick repellents that contain 20 percent or greater DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 directly on exposed skin, and follow all product label instructions. Caregivers should apply repellents to children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.
- Always check for ticks on your body, clothing, and pets after spending time outdoors.
- Young ticks are very small (about the size of a poppy seed), so get help from a friend or family member in your household or pod to inspect those hard to reach areas.
- Check extra-carefully for ticks on areas of the body where hair is present.
- Speak to a veterinarian about the best tick-prevention methods available for your pets.
If you find a tick on yourself or a pet, please follow these steps:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible. Make sure the entire tick has been removed, including the head. Avoid pressing on the insect’s abdomen, and this increases the risk of transmitting the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease.
- Place the tick in a container that closes tightly, write down where the bite was located and the date when the tick was removed, and store it in the refrigerator. The tick could be useful if you develop symptoms of tick-borne illness.
- If you develop symptoms such as fever, chills, a rash at the site of the tick bite, or unusual aches and pains up to 30 days after experiencing a tick bite, consult your medical provider and let them know you were bitten by a tick. Bring the tick to your medical provider for testing. With an order from your doctor, the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory will test the tick for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
For more information regarding ticks and other tick-borne diseases, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html.