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Rising tick population prompts Lyme disease warning in California

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A recent study found disease-carrying ticks in unexpected places: near the beaches in Northern California. Carter Evans has the details.

Video Transcript

NORAH O'DONNELL: And tonight we're following a nationwide invasion of ticks. The disease carrying bugs are turning up in droves as we head into summer and they're being found in areas long believed to be tick free. Here is CBS's Carter Evans.

DANA PARISH: All the things that we're walking by right now could be filled with ticks.

CARTER EVANS: After battling Lyme disease, Dana Parrish thought she was safe from ticks when she moved from New York to the California coast. Now you come back from the beach and you got to check for ticks?

DANA PARISH: Yes, unfortunately. I hate to break it to you, but that's exactly what you have to do.

CARTER EVANS: Researchers recently blanketed the brush along northern California beaches.

DANIEL SALKELD: We're surprised to find large numbers of ticks on that coastal chaparral.

CARTER EVANS: Typically the Northeast is the epicenter for ticks in the US, and scientists are expecting an explosion of ticks there this year. Warmer, wetter winters could be contributing to the larger numbers of mice they like to feed on. And more ticks means more tick food borne illnesses like Lyme disease. The CDC's most recent data shows cases in 48 states, with nearly half a million Americans being treated for it every year.

DANA PARISH: So they're looking for blood basically, and they can be as small as a poppy seed.

CARTER EVANS: Parish was infected seven years ago on the beach in New Jersey. At one point, she went into heart failure.

DANA PARISH: Within five months of that bite I lost every part of who I was.

CARTER EVANS: Scientists say it's not the sand sunbathers need to worry about, but rather the walk to it. These are things that people in California don't think about when they're going to the beach.

DANA PARISH: I hope that this study will bring light to the fact that it is here.

CARTER EVANS: And finding ticks early is the key to avoiding Lyme disease. So check when you get home and then take a hot shower. Finally, put your clothes in a hot dryer and that'll kill off any stragglers you may have brought with you. Norah?

NORAH O'DONNELL: Carter Evans with the good advice. Thank you.