Tick Tock, Danger’s Not Coming, It’s Here

Tick on plant
Ticks are here for the long haul, Photo: Risto Hunt/123RF

Eastern Long Island is, unfortunately, a hotspot of tick-borne disease, and that’s one of the reasons that Southampton Hospital established its Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center in 2014. According to Robert Chaloner, the President and CEO of Southampton Hospital, the center has two crucial missions they’re working to achieve—“educating the public and the medical community, while facilitating access to the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne disease.”

On May 23, there is a wonderful opportunity to support the work of the resource center. On that date, the American Hotel in Sag Harbor will provide the setting for the Center’s 2nd annual fundraiser, an cocktail reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Chaloner will be there, delivering remarks about the work that the center does. Tickets for the event are $80 in advance, $100 at the door. Visit eastendtickresource.org for tickets.

If we’re honest, most of us will admit that we don’t check ourselves for ticks as often as we ought to. Some of us might confess that we don’t really know what a tick looks like.

That’s what the Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center is for. Its staff has been fanning out across our area to offer educational symposia, keeping the public informed of the latest knowledge in preventing and treating tick-borne diseases. Especially important is their work with children. According to Chaloner in 2016, “The TickWise program for kids…educated over 700 East End children in public and private schools, summer camps, libraries, and other venues.” Children, after all, tend to spend a lot more time outside than adults, and aren’t known for being on guard against unseen dangers.

For those who may have missed these presentations, the Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center also has a webpage, easily located on southamptonhospital.org, with lots of information about preventing tick-borne disease. For example, did you know that keeping your grass cut and getting rid of tall grasses around fences and building foundations will help reduce tick habitats? Yet another good reason to send Junior out to mow the grass and trim the borders once a week! Just make sure he’s fully covered to guard against ticks, and that he showers as soon as possible afterward—make sure he washes his clothes and dries them at highest heat as well. These and many other helpful tips are included in a downloadable checklist published on the resource center’s website. Print it out and post it on the fridge until the habits become ingrained.

What if, despite all of your precautions, you wind up with a tick? If you’re of a certain age, you may remember your Mom or Dad commanding you to stand very still as they took the hot tip of a recently extinguished match and burnt a tick off your scalp. DO NOT DO THIS—it doesn’t work. Instead, arm yourself with the proper tools, and carry them wherever you go. The resource center offers a Tick Removal Kit, containing everything you need to remove a tick—and thanks to generous donors, these are available for free.

In addition to all of these services already mentioned, the resource center has a help line—631-726-TICK—to answer questions about tick removal, to help in understanding lab results and to provide referrals. In 2016, the help line fielded around 400 calls. That’s a lot of ticks, and, with a little bit of luck, a lot of tick-borne disease prevented!

The Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center wouldn’t be possible without generous support from local businesses and entities. Brian Kelly of East End Tick & Mosquito Control and Landscape Details are two of their corporate sponsors, and their work is sponsored by charitable entities as well. Now you, too, can become a sponsor by attending the 2nd annual fundraiser. Help stop the spread of tick-borne disease!

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