Tick measurements, in comparison with a quarter.
Tick measurements, in comparison with a quarter.

Suffolk County has a brand spanking new Tick Control Advisory Committee, which will be attacking the tick-borne disease crisis on a precise new front: working with the county’s Vector Control office, which now devotes much of its energy to mosquito control, on a plan to manage ticks.

The committee, formed at the urging of Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman of the South Fork, will hold its first meeting tomorrow at the Riverhead County Center.

“A primary function of government is to protect the health and welfare of residents of Suffolk County,” said Mr. Schneiderman. “This committee will help Vector Control develop a plan to reduce the incidence of Lyme Disease and other tick borne-illnesses.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control reported last year that Lyme Disease was 10 times more prevalent than the CDC had previously believed, with 300,000 cases diagnosed each year, many of which had never previously been reported to the CDC.

New York doctors have reported more than 5,000 cases of Lyme Disease in five of the last ten years, more than any other state.  The full state-by-state report is available here. But, the CDC says, those numbers likely far underestimate the amount of people who have the disease, because many diagnoses are actually never reported to the CDC.

Despite this public health crisis, ticks are not widely treated by public health agencies as a “disease vector” insect. Mr. Schneiderman’s plan is to change that.

The new Tick Advisory Committee will oversee the implementation of Mr. Schneiderman’s 2013 legislation requiring Vector Control to submit annual plans on reduction of tick-borne illnesses, including the work to be done, the methods to be employed and methods of determining the effectiveness of the program.

In 2012, Suffolk County created a Tick and Vector-Borne Diseases Task Force, at the urging of then-North Fork County Legislator Ed Romaine, which held public hearings with great fanfare in the fall of that year.

But that task force did not release a report expected at the end of 2013, and its commission from the county was expected to expire June 1, 2014. Mr. Schneiderman sponsored legislation in June to give the task force until December to complete its report, after which the terms of office of the members of that task force will expire.

The new Tick Control Advisory Committee has 12 members, some of whom were on the original task force, including Drs. Scott Campbell and John Rasweiler.

Vector Control Director Dominick Ninivaggi and Laboratory Director Ilia Rochlin are serving on the new committee, as is Jason Hann from Mr. Schneiderman’s office and North Fork Legislator Al Krupski’s legislative aide, Gwynn Schroeder.

Brian Kelly of East End Tick & Mosquito Control, Nick Gibbons of the county parks and recreation department, Jeremy Samuelson of Concerned Citizens of Montauk, Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty and Dan Gilrein of Cornell Cooperative Extension will also serve on the new committee.

“Ticks and the diseases they transmit are clearly a problem in Suffolk County and in many regions of our country,” said Mr. Ninivaggi. “We are researching what is needed to better understand the problem and what we can do from a practical point of view to address the issue. Any actual control efforts will have to pass a thorough environmental review.”


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

4 thoughts on “Suffolk County’s New Tick Committee to Meet Wednesday

  1. I’m so sick of all the red tape related to this issue.
    The answer is simple-
    -Kill the deer
    -Homeowners and Suffolk County must spray chemicals to kill the remainder of the deer ticks….and…maybe in 10 years we might see a reduction in the tick population.

    All these reviews, committee’s and environmental reviews are just wasting time. We also need to STOP the animal activists from controlling our lives, they were responsible for stopping the Deer Cull which was scheduled to happen…but didn’t do to the ‘activists’. Why do we give animal activists so much control and our local government no control ?

    With all the education we have on Long Island you would think a few of the smart ones would have taken care of this already.

  2. Don’t know if spraying more chemicals is the answer, but glad to see Jay Schneiderman acknowledging this serious issue. I have suffered for years. Doctors need to be educated and stop telling everyone there is nothing wrong with them when they have all the symptoms of Lymes in an epidemic area. The tests are useless. They need to find accurate testing and treat according to symptoms .

  3. Hi Kathy, Spraying chemicals is the only way to get rid of the ticks…after the deer are gone. That’s a problem due to our water supply….so there’s no easy answer.

  4. In Texas they use a deer bait station to apply tickicide. As deer feed on the bait, the design of the device forces them to rub against pesticide-impregnated applicator rollers. The rollers in turn apply tickicide to their ears, heads, necks, and shoulders where roughly 90% of feeding adult ticks are attached. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the tickicide to other parts of the body. Studies (see below) have shown that use of ‘4-Poster’ technology has resulted in the control of 92 to 98% of free-living tick populations in areas around the devices after three years of use.

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