New York will launch offensive to bring pests under control

Cuomo: State Will Confront Ticks

New York State will answer the call for help.

With the sheer number of ticks at record levels, and tick-borne diseases skyrocketing, Governor Andrew Cuomo promised the state will intensify its efforts to get the problems under control.

In May, Cuomo announced an aggressive Lyme and tick-borne disease control plan. He directed the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to identify areas most affected. “Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are a major threat to the health and well-being of New Yorkers, and we are taking aggressive actions to help stop the spread of these diseases,” he said.

A state study revealed an alarming increase in the tick population in upstate New York, though the East End remains the epicenter. Curiously the first target areas do not include locales on eastern Long Island. Tick control methods will include strategic application of eco-friendly tick control treatments on parkland in the Hudson Valley, Capital Region, and Southern Tier, where the public is at risk of tick exposure and Lyme disease.

Additionally, the state will expand the use of four-poster “tickicide” deer treatment feeding stations that help to control ticks spread by white-tailed deer. While the deer feed on corn at the station, treated rollers brush insecticide against the animal’s neck, head, and ears where many adult ticks tend to feed. The stations are already successfully in use in certain areas on Long Island, including Robert Moses State Park and Connetquot River State Park.

Experts urge the public to take every precaution to minimize the chance of getting bitten while hiking, working, or spending time in wooded areas: Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and perform frequent body checks. Consider use of repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535, following label instructions.

Governor Cuomo has directed the Department of Health to establish a new working group on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases comprised of representatives from professional organizations, academic institutions, and local health departments. The working group will join participating state agencies at a one-day summit to review New York State’s current initiatives and make policy recommendations on actions that New York State can take in the next one to three years to advance prevention, diagnostics, and other best practices.

“These new initiatives complement the department’s renowned research efforts and aggressive actions to better inform and better protect New Yorkers from tick-borne illnesses,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “I commend Governor Cuomo for this commitment and for instituting bold new control measures to help limit the spread of these diseases and protect public health.”

The governor has also directed the Department of Health to pursue private research partnerships to develop a better diagnostic test, which can ultimately lead to more effective treatments.

“Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are a major threat to the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, and we are taking aggressive actions to help stop the spread of these disease,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this control plan, New York is making a major commitment to research, awareness, and prevention of this public health crisis to keep New Yorkers safe and free of these preventable diseases.”

rmurphy@indyeastend.com