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Dutchess County Legislature to Declare May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Published: 5/10/2010

For Release: May 10, 2010
Contact: Michael A. Ellison (845) 486-2103

STOP, experts to offer prevention awareness information

The Dutchess County Legislature will declare May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month according to its Chairman Robert Rolison (R-Poughkeepsie). In 2008 alone, there were more than 35,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the United States bringing the actual number of reported cases to over 350,000.

“Every one of us knows someone who has been impacted by this horrible disease. In our region, Lyme disease is unfortunately all too common. To combat it, members of the Dutchess County Legislature and its Tick Task Force are partnering with STOP (Stop Ticks on People) to do what they can to educate citizens on how best to avoid contracting Lyme disease,” said Chairman Rolison.

Lyme disease is caused by the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to the human blood stream by the bite of various species of ticks. STOP, a non-profit that works closely with the county Legislature’s Tick Task Force, is dedicated to finding safe environmental solutions to tick control, reducing the incidence and prevalence of tick-borne disease through education, research, and prevention.

“Lyme disease is just one of the many diseases carried by ticks,” said Legislator Donna Bolner who is the Chairwoman of the Tick Task Force. “We can stamp out Lyme and other tick-borne pathogens by continuing to research and implement safe, biological methods to eradicate the ticks that transmit these diseases to pets and humans. STOP has a great team of citizen advocates and professionals including Dr. Richard Ostfeld whose findings are nationally recognized. All these individuals work tirelessly to achieve this goal while educating residents on how best not to get bit by a tick.”

Lyme disease is one of several human diseases carried by ticks in Dutchess County and elsewhere of which no human vaccines are available, and diagnosis and treatment can be challenging. Avoidance of ticks and the diseases they transmit is key.  Research in Richard Ostfeld’s lab at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook focuses on understanding where infected ticks are most abundant, when they are most likely to bite, and ultimately why. Two major goals of this research are to help people avoid the riskiest places and times.  Ostfeld, in cooperation with Felicia Keesing at Bard College, are research experts in the subject of tick-borne diseases with a web-based exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and exhibits in preparation at the National Zoo and Smithsonian Institution, both in Washington, D.C.  In the past year alone, their research has been covered in Newsweek, The New York Times, and other renowned media.

Rolison and Bolner have invited Dr. Richard Ostfeld to speak at the May Board Meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature where Legislators will declare this Lyme Disease Awareness Month. In addition, the Mid-Hudson Bridge will light the suspension cables green at 2 minutes past sundown to promote the Legislature’s efforts.

“For the next few weeks, every time a motorist or pedestrian sees the Mid-Hudson Bridge glowing green they should take a moment and think about the person or persons they know who have to live with Lyme disease,” said Legislator Benjamin Traudt who is the legislative liaison to the Tick Task Force. “If we don’t take the appropriate precautions and increase awareness the ticks will continue to spread disease to our loved ones if not ourselves.”

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