Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Editorial: Stay safe from ticks

Ticks and tick-borne diseases have been a widely discussed health problem across the East End for decades. Lyme disease, carried by the common deer tick — which is transported on the bodies of white-tail deer and mice — has caused serious health concerns.

But other types of ticks are also here now, carrying new and dangerous pathogens. Experts — including the Shelter Island Deer & Tick Committee — say the lone star tick is flourishing across the region. You can identify the lone star variety and the Asian longhorned tick by the small white dot on its back. It’s a sickening sight.

Pointing to the recent mild winter, experts are warning that this season could be particularly bad for ticks and the diseases they bring along with them. The winters of the past, when Peconic Bay froze solid, are behind us. It’s doubtful they will ever return, and we are living with the consequences.

Stony Brook University Hospital officials say they treated tick bites throughout the winter, and saw many in April, which is normally a quiet month for tick issues. A warm winter followed by a hot summer will make the problem far worse, they say.

The experts’ warnings were echoed recently in an alarming Newsday story reporting that the lone star tick is gaining ground on Long Island. While these ticks don’t carry Lyme disease, lone stars do carry pathogens that can cause, among other symptoms, meat allergies in those they infect.

Plus, the experts say, a new pathogen has been found in these ticks — Rickettsia amblyommatis — which increases the potential danger they present. In addition, experts have now documented the presence of the Asian longhorned tick on Long Island. A new invader, here to cause further alarm.

To help counter Islanders and visitors being bitten by ticks and developing illnesses, Deer & Tick Committee member Julia Weisenberg has been working with Mashomack Preserve staffers to get information out on how to avoid tick-borne illnesses.

Because of the proliferation of ticks on the Island, advice from the D&T Committee — one of the best, most conscientious and hardworking town groups that we have — has been to wear white socks tucked into light-colored pants and tops with sleeves and to check throughly for ticks and remove them after returning from a hike.

Partnering with Mashomack, the D&T committee rolled out a program this spring called S.C.A.R.E.D.D, on how to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your pets:

• S – Shower after outdoor activity

• C – Check yourself for ticks

• A – Avoid tall grass and brush

• R – Repel ticks with repellents on skin and clothing

• E – Examine your pets and children for ticks too

• D – Dress appropriately with long sleeve and pants

• D – Dry clothes in a dryer after outdoor activity Stay smart, stay safe, and avoid getting sick.