County announces tick bite prevention campaign

Expanded Initiative Targets Youth at Schools, Summer Schools, Camps, Beaches and Parks

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the rollout of the 2018 Tick-Bite Prevention Education Campaign to help educate school-age children about preventive measures they can take to reduce the risk of tick bites. The campaign, targeting children at K-12 schools, camps, summer programs, beaches and parks, was devised under Suffolk County’s Shared Services Initiative.

“We have a tremendous potential for impact when we collaborate with our local school districts, camps, parks and beaches to advance public health protection,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “The Tick-Bite Prevention Education Campaign aims to enable students to identify the kinds of ticks that we find in Suffolk County, examine the types of illnesses that each of the ticks can cause, and develop a plan for self-protection. Our hope is that students will further share this important information with their parents and the community.”

County Executive Bellone announced that educational outreach commenced this week as Suffolk County Department of Health Services Officials began distributing a PowerPoint slide presentation and Tick-Borne Disease Newsletters in both English and Spanish to all 68 Suffolk County school districts and approximately 175 licensed summer camps. Additionally, Health Department officials will provide onsite, age-appropriate educational forums for summer school programs and summer camps and will also offer to train program staff so that they can conduct their own ongoing awareness and education programs.

In addition, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services is collaborating with Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center to distribute additional educational materials during these presentations.  To schedule an on-site presentation, please call (631) 852-5999.

Legislator Bridget Fleming said: “Tick-borne illness continues to be a major concern and a public health issue in our County.  A recent report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists New York as having the highest concentration of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in the nation and identifies Suffolk County as the ground-zero of tick-borne diseases. I applaud the County Executive and Commissioner Tomarken for recognizing the dangers tick-borne illnesses pose to our community and for taking concrete steps, both to educate the public and to study and manage the tick population, in order to combat tick-borne disease. Many of our residents don’t know that ticks remain active if temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or that they should put their clothes in the dryer on high heat after walking, running or hiking in outdoor areas.  Increasing awareness and educating the public is why I started a Tick Poster Contest almost immediately after taking office. With the summer months upon us, many families will be enjoying the wonderful outdoor spaces we have by going hiking, camping, and sending their children to summer camps, and because tick-borne diseases overwhelmingly impacts our youth, it is important that we educate our communities on preventative measures that they can take to reduce the risk of tick bites and tick-related diseases.”

Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services said: “The CDC recently reported that diseases transmitted by ticks and other vectors have more than tripled in the U.S. in recent years and has recommended widespread educational outreach to reduce the risk of tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Our prevention and education specialists have developed informational materials based on evidence and geared for the school-aged population.”

Karen Wulffraat, Administrative Director of the Resource Center said: “As part of its core mission, the Regional Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital supports the education of children in our schools, summer camps, and libraries. We are excited to continue our partnership with Suffolk County in their Shared Services Initiative to reach even more kids, who by their propensity for outdoor sports and recreation, are some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s Shared Services Initiative, Suffolk County is working with towns, villages and school districts to share services and cut costs. As a result, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services has expanded its tick-bite prevention education campaign in a collaborative effort with the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center to provide educational materials and resources to local school districts, children’s summer camps, beaches and parks. In doing so, the County provides this critical information and resources at no additional cost to local municipalities.

The Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center Help Line can be reached at (631) 726-TICK to answer questions regarding tick bites and to provide additional educational materials.

To download the new 2018 Tick-Bite Prevention Campaign materials and to learn more about Suffolk County’s surveillance and prevention efforts, visit here.

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