SANTA CRUZ (KPIX) — Scientists are warning the public about the potential dangers from disease-carrying ticks after a recent study found high numbers of the pesky insects in coastal areas where they were once believed to be uncommon.

“Ticks are found pretty abundantly in scrubby, brushy areas bordering the beaches,” says Hannah Romo with Santa Clara County’s Vector Control Department.

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Researchers from Colorado State University spent four years studying the tick population in coastal areas like Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Marin counties.

They found ticks in roughly the same numbers as inland wooded areas.

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“I love to go in the woods,” says Joe Lima. An avid hiker, Lima says he takes all the proper precautions for a hike like using insect repellent, wearing closed-toe shoes and long sleeves and pants — measures that can minimize exposure to ticks.

Ticks can carry Lyme disease which can be serious if not caught and treated early. Lyme disease produces flu0like symptoms including a spiking fever, extreme fatigue and body aches as well as a bullseye-shaped rash near the bite site.

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“In some cases but not all cases, there is a rash that presents in the shape of a bullseye surrounding when the bite mark can occur. But like I said, it doesn’t occur in all cases.,” says Romo.