It’s time for Suffolk County to start spending time and money on getting rid of ticks, says county Legis. Ed Romaine. Because for many residents, one bite from a tick carrying Lyme disease has become a matter of life and death.
Romaine is part of a newly formed county tick task force, created in June to study the spread of tick and vector-borne related diseases, and to develop a comprehensive needs assessment. During Tuesday’s work session, he told the that this is the second tick task force he’s been involved in, and he’s going to push for the group to visit Southold Town for a public meeting in September.
The first task force formed two years ago and focused on Lyme disease — a tick-borne disease affecting hundreds in Suffolk County. Several medical professionals were onboard to talk about their concerns with how Lyme is treated, and how the disease is too often under-reported and misdiagnosed.
“This was more of an awareness task force about the medical realities — three weeks of treatment on an antibiotic might not be enough for everyone,” Romaine said.
But tick eradication methods are the new focus of this task force, which has met once and will meet again next week.
“The county spends millions fighting mosquitoes, and justifiably so, with West Nile a major concern,” he said. “But we’ve hardly spent a dime on tick eradication.”
The county did set up a four years ago on Shelter Island, where 60 of these 4-poster devices were set up with cornmeal in the back of rollers sprayed with a pesticide that would cover a deer’s ears if it ate the cornmeal. Deer are one of the main carriers of ticks in Suffolk County.
“The 4-poster system is still hotly debated on Shelter Island, but I think it’s a worthy experiment — the town has decided to continue with 20 of these system, not 60,” Romaine. “But now is the time when the county has to work out protocols that aren’t too grossly expensive that work to reduce the impact of tick-borne illness.”
Romaine added that is another issue that needs a bigger spotlight in the eyes of the county and New York State delegates. He said he hopes the meeting between the Town and the task force will bring people to talk about their own experiences with ticks and Lyme disease and draw ideas on how to manage what is becoming a serious health problem after an unseasonably warm winter.
“At the end of this task force, we might not have a comprehensive plan, but we need to take a look at all options,” Romaine said. “We need to do something, because right now the county is spending next to nothing on tick eradication or on deer management.”
What do you think the county can do to help reduce the tick population? Let us know in the comments below.