Blacklegged ticks carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme have been found in the coastal chaparrals surrounding California beaches. James Gathany/AP hide caption
Blacklegged ticks carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme have been found in the coastal chaparrals surrounding California beaches.
As temperatures rise in California and people in search of respite head for the beach, there's a new concern beyond damaging sun rays and strong undercurrents: disease-carrying ticks that appear to be spreading all along the Golden State's coast.
The black-legged arachnids that carry Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme, are common on the East Coast, where they usually are found in wooded areas and tall grass. But new research shows the blood-sucking critters are capable of thriving along the West Coast too, though experts don't exactly know why or how.
Dan Salkeld, a biology researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, led a four-year study that found the ticks on beaches along much of Northern California, from Mendocino County down to Monterey County. It appears they're also moving further south, including to Malibu, Manhattan Beach and Newport Beach, Salkeld told NPR affiliate KCRW — though he notes that the threat of Lyme disease is minimal in those areas.