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Get rid of rats, ticks will follow

Ticks carrying a disease that infected two people in the Truckee area could stick around all year, according to officials, who are encouraging locals to take precautions.

Called relapsing fever, the disease is carried by lesser-known soft-bodied ticks, which can be found wherever rats are ” including the year-round warmth of the walls and crawl spaces of local homes. Characterized by cycles of sudden fever, chills, nausea, and other symptoms, the good news is the disease is easily diagnosable and treatable.

“It’s not that uncommon,” said Dr. Joseph Iser, public health officer and director for Nevada County Health and Human Services. “Because of the fever people end up seeing their doctor and are treated.”



People rarely go through more than a couple cycles before seeking medical help, and the symptoms, along with the frequency, makes relapsing fever easy to diagnose, Iser said.

Once put on antibiotics, patients recover rapidly, he said.



“How people react depends a lot on the person, in general any disease can be worse in young kids, the elderly, on certain medications or otherwise immunosuppressed patients,” Iser said. “But there haven’t been any deaths that I know of.”

Unlike West Nile Virus and other diseases transmitted by insects or other animals, relapsing fever can occur year-round.

The soft-body tick doesn’t latch on like it’s lyme’s disease-carrying relatives, so most won’t realize they’ve been bit, he said.

By taking steps to get rid of rats at home, people can reduce the risk of the disease.

“When I go away in the winter I turn off almost all the heat and the water so rodents will move out,” said Iser.

Nevada County Public Health officials also recommend checking sleeping areas for evidence of rodents, changing bedding after a home has been unoccupied, avoid sleeping on floors or bed that touch the walls of old homes, and don’t feed squirrels, chipmunks or other rodents.


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