Study: LI's east end has highest percentage of ticks with Lyme disease

According to a multi-year study by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS), parts of Long Island’s east end have the highest percentage of Lyme disease carrying adult ticks among the entire county.

“The pathogen that causes lyme disease varies from location to location. this year, it happens that east hampton and shelter island are the highest at 66%,” says Dr. Scott Campbell, Chief of the SCDHS Arthropod-Borne Disease Lab.

The study analyzed data from 2016 to 2018 as part of the county’s Tick Surveillance Program.

Experts like Campbell collected different species of nymph and adult ticks from each of the county’s ten townships.

Then, the State Health Department tested the ticks for pathogens that cause lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

“The one we all know about is Lyme disease, but there are others that are now becoming quite evident, and that’s babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis,” adds Dr. James Tomarken, the Suffolk County Health Department Commissioner.

Many tick-borne diseases have similar signs and symptoms including rash, fever, chills, aches and pains.

In some cases, they can even cause potentially fatal complications.

Tips to prevent tick bites include using chemical repellents, wearing light-colored protective clothing, and tucking your pant legs into your socks.

The county's Division of Vector Control is currently conducting field trials with commercial pesticide applicators to help manage the tick population.
Officials say you should also mow the lawn often and clean up leaf litter to keep the potentially dangerous pests at bay.

County health experts are getting ready to send this year’s spring and early summer tick samples to the state for analysis.

They say, if all goes according to schedule, the results should be back by this fall.