Tick-borne diseases likely to worsen with warming temperatures

By Chris Mellides

As Long Island winters get milder due to climate change, Long Island’s existing tick problem is likely to intensify.

Already, municipalities on the North Shore have engaged the public to discuss the dangers of ticks and consider possible remedies.

At a meeting of the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Directors on July 5, a concerned resident said, “Another child has just been bitten by a lone tick and she won’t be able to eat meat for the rest of her his life.

The meat allergy in question is Alpha-gal syndrome. AGS is a tick-borne disease commonly transmitted by lone ticks, which are commonly carried by deer, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Cases of the widespread Lyme disease nearly doubled during the years 1991-2018, based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the climate warms, the size of tick populations and the spread of tick-borne diseases are expected to increase.

The village administrator, Rebecca Kassay, whose experience is in the field of community environmental awareness, is well aware of the problem that these pests pose to the whole community. She considers recent public interest in tick activity to be worthy of the council’s attention.

“As time goes on and climate change affects our region, one of the effects is these milder winters,” Kassay said. “When there is no deep freezing for an extended period, ticks no longer die as they did before and as this is happening we are seeing a steady increase on Long Island and the Northeast in populations. of ticks. .”

Wooded areas and sports fields are more likely to be havens for these external parasites which are carried by wild animals such as mice and deer and commonly affect mammals, although other organisms are also game animals for those eight-legged insects that feed on blood.

“I will be reviewing messaging, making sure accurate information is being passed on to parents,” Kassay said, adding, “What are ticks? What are the dangers of [them]? And how important is it to regularly check themselves and their children for ticks? »

Port Jeff clerk Barbara Sakovich shared that while the village does not spray ticks, private property owners are permitted to spray their own properties.

Referring to the July 5 meeting, Sakovich said in a statement, “Deputy Mayor Snaden, along with a participant in the audience, discussed tick tubes and the fact that they can be quite effective in managing the problem of ticks in the mouse population”. The village clerk added: “A lint roller can be effective in removing ticks from clothes after going out.”

The New York State Department of Health lists several diseases known to be carried by ticks. However, the severity of the symptoms raised a number of eyebrows. Lyme disease is the most common, but anaplasmosis, rickettsiosis, ehrlichiosis and tularemia are also contracted via bioactive molecules in tick saliva.

Tick ​​bites affect parents and children alike, and the Port Jefferson Village website recommends afflicted residents to “call your doctor as soon as possible so that appropriate preventative treatment can be administered.”

“There’s a vigilance and an awareness that needs to be spread and I hope our community doesn’t learn these things through personal experience,” Kassay said. “Instead, [we need] neighbors talk to neighbors and parents talk to parents and share this information so that with this information we can prevent other children from suffering [from AGS].”