Sam Telford from Tufts talks tough on ticks at Chilmark meeting
Excerpted from the Martha Vineyard Times: (08/28/2013)
Even though it was a gorgeous, late summer afternoon, ready made for recreating, a good number of up-Islanders were inside the Chilmark Community Center last Friday, attending a discussion on tick-borne illness, sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health Tick Borne Disease Council (TBDC).
The TBDC is made up of Island board of health members, physicians, and health and environmental management professionals whose mission is to educate Islanders about prevention and early recognition of tick-borne diseases.
Given that four days earlier the Center for Disease Control made the stunning announcement that Lyme disease is ten times more prevalent than previously estimated, the timing of this TBDC talk at ground zero couldn’t have been better.
“There should be a thousand people here,” said Aquinnah resident Sondra Mekonian. “I know so many people with Lyme, even my dog had it. It’s scary.”
Prevention, prevention, prevention
Matt Poole, Edgartown health agent and co-chairman of the TBDC, opened the discussion emphasizing the message TBDC has been hammering for the past two years — while we do live at the epicenter of an insidious pox, individuals can drastically reduce their risk by taking simple steps: wearing protective clothing, using repellent, doing preventative landscaping, making daily tick checks and and knowing the early symptoms of tick-borne diseases.
“I cleared a ton of brush this year and I should have had a few tick bites” said Mr. Poole, “But the combination of protective clothing and Premethrin spray, I haven’t had a single bite. Anyone who knows they’re crossing paths with ticks, just wearing protective clothing and using Premethrin can greatly reduce your odds.”
Mr. Poole also urged the every Islander to make use of the Boards of Health Island-Wide Tick Borne Illness Prevention Program website for the most up-to-date information. He also suggested that they download the comprehensive Tick Management Handbook, produced by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Mr. Poole quickly turned the program to speakers Sam Telford, professor of infectious diseases at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and consultant to the TBDC; and Thomas Millette, professor of Geology and Geography and Director of the Geoprocessing Laboratory at Mount Holyoke College.
Both men had new reconnaissance to share in the battle against tick-borne diseases on the Island. Some of it sobering, some of it hopeful, all of it useful.