07/13/15 6:36pm
07/13/2015 6:36 PM
Dr. Jenny Cabas-Vargas, a rheumatologist at Peconic Bay Medical Center, now treats patients at PBMC Health's new Tick-Related Disease Center, which opened in Manorville in May. (Credit: PBMC courtesy photos)

Dr. Jenny Cabas-Vargas, a rheumatologist at Peconic Bay Medical Center, now treats patients at PBMC Health’s new Tick-Related Disease Center, which opened in Manorville in May. (Credit: PBMC courtesy photos)

A new facility at PBMC Health’s Manorville campus is working to provide comprehensive care and educational materials to locals who have been bitten by deer ticks or already have Lyme disease.

The Tick-Related Disease Center, which opened its office in May at the Gertrude & Luis Feil Campus for Ambulatory Care on County Road 111, was launched in response to the increasing incidence of tick-borne illness on the North Fork  — something that is driven largely by the East End’s difficulty in managing its deer overpopulation.

(more…)

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…)

09/30/14 8:12am
09/30/2014 8:12 AM
Tick committee members meeting in Riverside at its first meeting in July. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Tick committee members meeting in Riverside at its first meeting in July. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

It seems as though the county’s tick committee will get more time to sink their teeth into the tick problem.

After learning at its first meeting in July that it might only have one or two meetings to help develop a plan for Suffolk County to stem the tide of a growing presence of tick-borne illnesses, the county legislature’s Tick Control Advisory Committee may be around for another year, at least.

A resolution was approved on Monday by the county’s Public Works, Transportation and Energy Committee extending its life until Suffolk’s 2016 Annual Vector Control Plan is adopted next fall. It now requires support from the full body after passing the committee unanimously.

“It was only meant to make suggestions early on,” said Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman (I-Montuak), the South Fork legislator who co-sponsored the legislation creating the committee. “But now the committee is expanding somewhat to have a little bit more of an ongoing role while a plan is being implemented.”

The tick problem on the East End came to a head over the past year most publicly in the form of a debate over whether or not a $225,000 deer cull was the right move to help trip the deer herd. Leaders said before, during and after the cull — which reported killing just 192 of the county’s 25,000 – 36,000 deer — that a comprehensive approach toward trimming the herd would be key in combating Lyme Disease and the presence of ticks in the county.

Dr. John Rasweiler, a Southold Town resident who is on the committee, said at the committee’s first meeting at the end of July that after hearing what was expected of it, its original set of expectations simply wouldn’t fit with the timeline given.

“I understand the head of vector control is under some pressure to come up with a plan … by mid-September. He has to prepare some sort of report but I think that is asking a lot from the committee,” he said at the time. “I think even for the committee to narrow down to a series of serious recommendations, that is a pretty tight schedule.”

Mr. Rasweiler — a member of Southold’s deer management committee who has submitted opinion pieces to The Suffolk Times on the topic himself — said on Monday afternoon that giving the committee an extension was undoubtedly the right call.

“It’s probably necessary becasue were dealing with some very complex issues, and anybody who thought we were going to have this all wrapped up by this time was dreaming,” he said. “It’s better to do the job properly than in haste.”

By this time next year, the committee could have another set of tasks on its hands, so it could be given another goal or extension. Time will tell, Mr. Schneiderman said.

“The narrow respect which it was formed for — to guide the division to develop a plan — I don’t think they are going to need to do that forever. Maybe another year is enough, and then it can do other things — research better diagnostic tools, research into a cure — whatever that might be — or look at ways to improve public education.”

08/23/14 12:00pm
08/23/2014 12:00 PM
Lone star ticks, seen here at different life stages, are among the most abundant tick on the East End. (Credit: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County)

Lone star ticks, seen here at different life stages, are among the most abundant tick on the East End. (Credit: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County)

Is that a tick, a chigger, or a tiny spider?

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is working on creating a handy smartphone app to help East Enders get an answer to that question and many more with the touch of a button. (Spoiler alert: There are no chiggers on Long Island.) (more…)

08/10/14 7:00am
08/10/2014 7:00 AM
Lone star ticks at different stages of their life cycle, with recently hatched larvae at right. (Credit: Centers for Disease Control)

Lone star ticks at different stages of their life cycle, with recently hatched larvae at right. (Credit: Centers for Disease Control)

You can recognize it easily by it’s distinguishing white spot. It’s the lone star tick, a noteworthy creepy crawler that meat-lovers now need to be especially aware of.

Instead of tick-borne diseases like Lyme or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, this tick’s bite can cause its host to develop an allergy to red meat, according to experts, including Dr. Erin McGintee, an allergist at ENT Allergy & Associates in Riverhead.  (more…)

08/09/14 2:00pm
08/09/2014 2:00 PM

As has now been obvious for too long, we have a serious problem with tick-borne diseases on eastern Long Island. These can be challenging to diagnose and treat and sometimes progress to debilitating chronic or even fatal illnesses. More effective methods to control our excessive tick populations and prevent human infections are sorely needed.  (more…)