HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. - Lauren McCuen is looking for answers and hopes to find them with help from an infectious disease specialist at the new Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center in Hampton Bays.
It’s said to be the first and only dedicated tick clinic in the Northeast where patients can go for removal, diagnosis and counseling on tick bite prevention.
"The importance of the center is to provide care to a population with acute and chronic symptoms of tick-borne diseases," said Anna Marie Wellins who is a nurse practitioner at the facility.
According to doctors, there has been an increase in the number of tick bites and illnesses in Suffolk County. In 2022 there were more than 2,600 reported cases of Lyme, up from 496 the year before.
"If they’re treated early, they’ll recover well. But if it’s missed, they may have long term effects," Wellins said.
The Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s Resource Center had been operating a free tick helpline since 2015 and now with a physical space thanks to charitable gifts, children and adults can get the help they need.
"We’re hoping to see four patients a day," said Karen Wulffraat who is the administrative director of the center.
The center is also waiting on a high-tech microscope to give doctors the ability to identify ticks and place images of them in a patient’s medical record.
"For instance, if you’re hit by a lone star tick, you wouldn’t be concern about Lyme because that’s carried by the deer tick," Wulffraat said.
It's a new resource for Lauren and other patients as experts say an early diagnosis is key.