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Lyme Disease Detected in Ticks at Will Rogers Park

March 29, 2000

PACIFIC PALISADES — Health officials are warning hikers at Will Rogers State Historic Park to be wary of ticks this spring, because researchers have found a group of ticks there that tested positive for the bacterial illness Lyme disease.

People who play or work in the park or in the Santa Monica Mountains should be extra watchful for the ticks, which dwell in tall grass along trails and attach themselves to animals and humans, said Robert Saviskas, of the Los Angeles County West Vector Control District. Most cases of Lyme disease are contracted in spring and early summer.

Ticks that carry the disease were first discovered locally in Malibu State Park in 1999, and researchers say the infected creatures now appear to occupy a 22-mile stretch of the Santa Monica Mountains, from Malibu to the Palisades. Saviskas said it isn't clear whether infected ticks are spreading or whether they had always existed in these areas but are only recently being discovered because of increased testing.

In the latest testing, ticks with Lyme disease were collected along the park's Betty Rogers Trail. A total of 274 ticks were collected, and divided into groups of 10. One of those groups tested positive for the Lyme disease bacteria, Saviskas said.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a spreading rash, fever, headaches, and muscle and joint pains. Later symptoms of the disease include arthritis and nervous system disorders. People with medical questions may contact the Los Angeles County Acute Communicable Disease unit at (213) 240-7941.

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