04/20/15 8:00am
04/20/2015 8:00 AM

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A rare and potentially fatal tick-borne illness is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the Northeast, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Cases of the Neuroinvasive Powassan Virus, or POW, are few and far between but are often serious and becoming more common — both in terms of diagnosis and notoriety. Earlier this month Powassan, which can cause brain inflammation, caused a stir in Connecticut when state officials there announced the disease is starting to show up in more deer ticks in Bridgeport and Branford.

The story has since received national news coverage. (more…)

04/12/15 8:00am
04/12/2015 8:00 AM
Reporter Cyndi Murray makes a sour face while biting into a lime outside the newsroom last Thursday. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Reporter Cyndi Murray makes a sour face while biting into a lime outside the newsroom last Thursday. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Chances are if you don’t have Lyme disease you know someone who does.

Taking the necessary steps to prevent tick bites when you venture into the great outdoors becomes second nature here when the weather warms up. We all know the drill — wear light clothing, tuck your pants into your socks, conduct full-body checks for ticks after a day in the park, etc. Or just avoid wooded areas all together. (more…)

01/06/15 12:00pm
01/06/2015 12:00 PM
A female deer tick (Credit: Dan Gilrein, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County)

A female deer tick (Credit: Dan Gilrein, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County)

Chronic Lyme disease patients are now one step closer to being able to access a wider range of treatments, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month signed a new law protecting physicians who use treatment options outside federal guidelines.

As with any disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had developed guidelines for treating Lyme, but the CDC guidelines have long created dilemmas for doctors who want to help Lyme patients, since rendering treatment outside the guidelines could leave doctors liable for investigations by the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct. (more…)

07/29/14 12:00pm
07/29/2014 12:00 PM
A female deer tick on a leaf. (Credit: Daniel Gilrein)

A female deer tick on a leaf. (Credit: Daniel Gilrein)

Suffolk’s planning efforts to reduce tick-borne diseases across the county officially starts Wednesday.

That’s when the newly formed tick advisory committee meets for the first time. The 12-member group, made up of health experts, environmentalists,  local and county government officials and others, meets at 11 a.m. at the County Center in Riverside. (more…)

05/31/14 9:00am
05/31/2014 9:00 AM
JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | Two deer feeding at one of the '4-poster' tick control stations on Shelter Island.

Deer feeding at one of the ’4-poster’ tick control stations on Shelter Island. (Times/Review file photo)

Get the bug spray ready: Ticks are emerging and looking for warmblooded beings like you and me to snack on. And all too often, the critters leave behind harmful pathogens that put people at risk for illnesses like Lyme disease. (more…)

05/13/14 6:00am
05/13/2014 6:00 AM
When I was a boy camping with my family at Wildwood State Park in Wading River, deer ticks were unknown. As a Boy Scout involved in intensive hiking and camping all over this region, neither I nor anyone I knew was ever bitten by a deer tick.

But now Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are a huge problem for all of us. Suffolk County was a hotspot for Lyme when it fi rst emerged in the 1970s and it still is, but it’s now just one of many hotspots across the U.S., indeed the world.

We’ve been struck by an epidemic.

(more…)

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.

Sponsored By Peconic Landing.

Peconic Landing strives to be one of the pre-eminent continuing care communities in the United States. We are achieving our goals by operating as a partnership with our residents, Board of Trustees, management and staff.

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