04/07/14 12:14pm
04/07/2014 12:14 PM

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Spring is upon us. And while it may bring beautiful flowers and warmer weather, it also brings those little pests that have been hiding all winter: ticks. There are many solutions to keeping ticks at bay, but most options are associated with harsh chemicals that can be dangerous. Peconic Landing has tips and advice for you to get rid of ticks using a healthier and more environmentally friendly approach.

Darryl Volinski, Director of Environmental Services for Peconic Landing, says Guinea hens are a big hit in residential areas for keeping ticks away. These hens simply wander your yard and eat all the ticks off the ground. It may sound too good to be true, but the Guinea hens are an easy and effective way of keeping your yard tick-free without spraying any dangerous chemicals.

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If you aren’t ready to share your yard with hens and would rather take a different approach, Peconic Landing suggests using an organic tick repellent around walkways and dwellings. Using chemical pesticides might not only dangerous to your pets’ health, but yours and your family’s as well.

“Organic repellent reduces the amount of chemicals going into your groundwater,” said Mr. Volinski. “It also reduces the amount of chemicals that are exposed to your family.” Not only that, but spraying harmful chemicals in the air also pollutes our planet. Organic repellent reduces pollution and is a more environmentally friendly option.

Other options for keeping ticks away this spring include simple tasks like removing tall grass from your yard, especially around walking paths. Ticks like to hide in this type of grass and keeping it short will help prevent that.

Another idea is to recruit the use of mice through cardboard cylinders. “Mice take cotton from these cylinders to their nest that is covered with [organic] tick repellent,” said Mr. Volinski. “This keeps ticks away and doesn’t hurt the rodents.”

Peconic Landing strongly suggests you attempt these steps for getting rid of ticks this season, rather than using chemicals and pesticides.

“We want to encourage each one of our neighbors to be proactive for their family’s safety,” said Laurelle Cassone, Director of Sales at Peconic Landing.“And also to be proactive in taking care of our planet.”

Shoreline facing south

09/17/13 5:00pm
09/17/2013 5:00 PM
DANIEL GILREIN COURTESY PHOTO | An adult deer tick, which are known to  carry pathogens causing Lyme disease, babesiosis or anaplasmosis. Adult ticks are active in spring and late fall, according to Daniel Gilrein, entomologist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

DANIEL GILREIN COURTESY PHOTO | An adult deer tick, which are known to carry pathogens causing Lyme disease, babesiosis or anaplasmosis.

In an effort to combat tick-borne illnesses, county Legislature Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) has introduced new legislation to step up pressure on Suffolk County Vector Control, which is in charge of controlling the spread of insect-borne diseases.

The proposed law would require Vector Control to submit an annual plan that indicates steps being taken to reduce the incidence of tick-borne illnesses — including work to be done, active measures being taken and an analysis to determine the effectiveness of the program.

The division has reportedly focused mainly on mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile, according to a release from Mr. Schneiderman.

Area hospitals reported a spike in tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease earlier this year.

Nearly 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationally each year, while 1,000 cases of West Nile are reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lyme disease is now the most widespread vector-borne disease in the U.S., but cases are often underreported across the U.S., according to the CDC.

It is estimated only 10 percent of total cases nationally are reported, CDC officials said.

“Towns and villages are struggling to develop plans to respond to the growing Lyme disease cases,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “The county should be playing a leadership role in prevention.”

County Legislator Al Krupski, a co-sponsor of the bill, called Lyme disease an epidemic on the east end of Long Island.

“Most of us have been impacted in some way by tick-borne disease,” he said in a release. “Suffolk County needs to play an active role to control this growing health problem.”

Mr. Schneiderman said the county has, however, done a good job preventing West Nile.

While mosquito and bird samples have tested positive for the virus, no humans have tested positive for West Nile so far this year, according to the county health department officials.

cmiller@timesreview.com

07/27/13 10:00am
07/27/2013 10:00 AM

DAN GILREIN COURTESY PHOTO | Deer ticks are behind a sudden surge in babesiosis cases on the East End.

Three East End hospitals have reported a spike in one of six tick-borne illnesses commonly seen on Long Island, hospital officials said.

Though Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are the best known, “this year we’ve seen a surge of babesiosis cases,” said Dr. Gary Rosenbaum, an infectious disease physician with Peconic Bay Medical Center.

Dr. Lawrence Schiff, director of emergency care at Eastern Long Island Hospital, and Deborah Maile, director of infection prevention at Southampton Hospital, also said they have seen an uptick in patients coming in with the disease.

Babesiosis is a curable illness spread by the blacklegged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick, said Daniel Gilrein, entomologist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

The tick’s bite transfers pathogens that can trigger severe anemia in humans, killing red and white blood cells and platelets – especially in patients who are missing a spleen or have a weakened immune system, Dr. Rosenbaum said.

“[The initial symptoms] are the most severe of the six tick-borne diseases that we get here on Long Island,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Peconic Bay has treated about 13 patients for babesiosis since June, many of whom were landscapers and others who work outdoors, he said.

Four patients had been diagnosed with Lyme disease during that same period in the past month. Lyme disease, commonly known by the symptoms of a distinct bull’s eye rash, is also caused by the deer tick, Mr. Gilrein said.

Dr. Rosenbaum said hospital officials have also seen four cases of anaplasmosis, caused by deer tick; and one confirmed case of ehrlichiosis, caused by the lone star tick.

Southampton officials are currently working on getting lab results for about 50 patients with tick-borne illness symptoms, Ms. Maile said.

She has been working on putting together a data set comparing diagnoses year to year. In June the hospital reported 18 cases of babesiosis, up from 11 cases in June 2012. She said there has also been an increase in cases of Lyme.

Peconic Bay officials are urging patients to be on the lookout for symptoms.

“All of these illnesses are curable if caught early,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Common symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, dark urine, skin rashes and circular “bull’s-eye” rashes, he said. A person experiencing any of these symptoms should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, he said, advising that patients check themselves thoroughly for ticks – especially the scalp, groin areas, backside and armpits.

Like mosquitoes, ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide given off by humans and animals.

“A tick can detect your carbon dioxide from over a mile away and start coming towards you,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Mr. Gilrein said while he has yet to complete a tick population survey this season, he has received calls concerning an increase in lone star ticks in some areas.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County research group has a diagnostic lab in Riverhead that will identify ticks for a small fee, Mr. Gilrein said. While the lab does not test for which pathogens the ticks are carrying, he said having a tick identified can still be helpful for physicians. To have a tick identified, contact the diagnostic lab at Cornell at 631-727-4126 or visit http://ccesuffolk.org/new-page-2-143/ for more information.

cmiller@timesreview.com