In response to a rapidly increasing tick population, Suffolk County recently announced the formation of a new tick task force to study the spread of tick and vector-borne related diseases, and to develop a comprehensive needs assessment. The task force will consider public spraying and will attempt to better educate homeowners, such as providing detailed tips on how to safely remove a tick.
As a Suffolk County resident and tick control specialist, I fully support the new force on the cusp of the recent uptick in the tick population. In the last 15 years in business, we have never seen this level of tick activity, which is most likely due to the unusually mild winter.
The main goal of the task force should be community education and tick-bite prevention. Knowing how to avoid tick bites and what to do if you are bitten – is the first line of defense.
It’s also very important to encourage Long Islanders to check for ticks frequently, during and after all outdoor activities. The sooner a tick is discovered and removed properly, the less likely a Lyme disease, babesiosis or ehrlichiosis infection will occur.
The public needs to be aware of the proper way to remove an embedded tick: It must be grasped carefully with fine tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull outward gently but firmly. Fingers should never be used as well as petroleum jelly, nail polish, etc. as this may cause the tick to inject infectious bacteria. Treat the bite site with a topical antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin or Neosporin. Once removed, save the tick in a jar and bring it to the doctor if symptoms occur.
Another line of defense is an effective tick control treatment, such as East End Tick & Mosquito Control’s full season program, which can eliminate ticks in treated areas for up to 4 weeks. These monthly spray and non-spray applications battle the constantly emerging tick population living on both private and public properties.
I would also like to see the tick task force focus on treating Suffolk County parks. Most of our parks are tick infested and thousands of people use them each week without knowing they are in danger of infectious bites.
The Suffolk County Tick Task Force meets monthly and is open to the public at the Auditorium at 360 Yaphank Ave, Yaphank. For more information about the Suffolk County Tick Task Force, call (631) 853-3009.