Health Commissioner Bassett, Staten Island Borough President Oddo Launch Citywide Social Media Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Campaign

Campaign educates New Yorkers about avoiding tick-borne infections

Campaign is one part of de Blasio Administration’s Deer Impact Management Plan


June 9, 2016
– As part of the de Blasio Administration’s Deer Impact Management Plan, the Health Department and Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo today launched a comprehensive tick-borne disease prevention campaign to remind New Yorkers to protect themselves against ticks and tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease. The campaign will run throughout June and will be seen on social media sites. Staten Island hospitals will be hosting grand rounds, a formal education session for physicians, residents, and medical students, on how to recognize, diagnose and treat tick-borne infections. The Health Department and the Staten Island Borough President’s Office will also schedule a community forum on tick-borne diseases in the coming months. The Health Department has been conducting outreach targeting children using several educational tools including
“All about Ticks,” a workbook for children and their parents. The workbook includes instructions on the proper removal of ticks using stuffed animal “Tick Check Harry,” which children can use to practice proper removal techniques.

The administration’s Deer Impact Management Plan was announced last month and focuses on four main areas: a sterilization study, traffic safety measures, extensive public education, and natural resource protection. Joining Health Commissioner Bassett and Borough President James Oddo at Staten Island Borough Hall was Department of Parks and Recreation Chief of Education and Wildlife Sarah Grimké Aucoin.

“While most New Yorkers acquire tick-borne infections outside the city, there is a risk of exposure on Staten Island and other wooded and tall grassy areas in the city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We want Staten Islanders and all New Yorkers to know how to protect themselves from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. Our online education efforts, combined with physician education, will increase awareness here on Staten Island and across the city, making this summer safer for all. I thank Borough President Oddo for being a great partner in these efforts.”

“With the increase in the deer population on Staten Island, it is more critical than ever for us to raise awareness of the dangers of ticks and how best to avoid Lyme disease,” said Borough President Oddo. “The Department of Health’s robust education campaign will do just that and I urge all Staten Islanders – especially those who enjoy spending time outdoors – to know the steps they can take to best protect themselves.”

“With deer now present on Staten Island, the risk of tick-borne illness grows. Fortunately there are simple steps everyone can take to protect themselves,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “That’s why educational efforts like this social media campaign are central to our three-ronged Deer Impact Management Plan, which takes aggressive action on Staten Island to mitigate the impact of deer on public health, traffic safety, and natural resources.”

“As residents of the Borough of Parks, Staten Islanders have the privilege of enjoying thousands of acres of parkland, however this abundant green space also brings the increased risk of tick-borne illness. This awareness campaign will serve to inform Islanders both young and old about how to protect themselves from ticks, and to make sure that tick borne illnesses are properly diagnosed and treated, potentially saving Islanders from devastating diseases including Lyme disease,” said Assemblyman Michael Cusick.

The Health Department does regular surveillance for tick-borne illnesses. On average, there are between 400 and 600 cases every year. Last year, there were 556 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the city. In 2014, there were 567. A majority of these cases originated outside the city.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infection in New York City, with symptoms including fever, headache, and a skin rash. If left untreated, infections can spread to the joints, heart and the nervous system. Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, but historically, these species have rarely been found in New York City. Enhanced tick surveillance will help define the range and density of this tick in Staten Island and the rest of NYC. Most patients in NYC become infected after traveling to surrounding areas, including Long Island and upstate New York.

Recommendations to Prevent Tick-Bites and Tick-Borne Illness
  • Check for ticks on your body or clothing after returning from wooded, brushy, or tall, grassy areas and remove any ticks you find on you, your child or your pet (see instructions below). Keep in mind that young ticks are very small (about the size of a poppy seed), so seek help to inspect not easily reachable areas. Be sure to look carefully in areas of the body where hair is present, since it may make it difficult to see the ticks. Adult ticks are about the size of an apple seed.
  • Remove ticks promptly.
  • Stay on cleared paths and hiking trails when walking in heavily wooded areas.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to allow you to better see ticks that crawl on your clothing.
  • Apply repellents containing DEET to prevent ticks from attaching. Use according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Wear Permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pant legs.
  • Shower after being in an area with ticks, and promptly put clothes in a dryer to kill ticks.
  • Speak to your veterinarian about tick prevention products for your pet dogs and cats.
  • Remove leaf litter and debris to reduce the likelihood of ticks around the home.
  • If you get a rash or a fever, let the doctor know if you may have been exposed to ticks, even if you don't remember having a tick bite.
Ticks on people or pets should be removed promptly. Refer to the tick removal video found here. Use tweezers or fingers to grasp them as close to the skin surface as possible, and pull up on the tick with slow, even pressure. Wash the area of a tick bite thoroughly with soap and water after the tick is removed to help reduce the likelihood of infection. Avoid squeezing or crushing the abdomen area. Using matches, petroleum jelly or other home remedies do not work to remove ticks.

The City has already taken measures to address the impacts of the deer population and educate New Yorkers on coexisting with deer:
  • The City launched an Interagency Task Force composed of representatives from City, State, and Federal agencies with specialized expertise in different aspects of deer management. Working in partnership through the task force, NYC Parks became a cooperating agency on an in-progress USDA environmental assessment of deer impacts and deer management options in New York State.
  • City Hall and NYC Parks officials met with Borough President Oddo and other elected officials to discuss deer management options in urban settings with the NYS DEC, and the USDA Wildlife Services from New York, Washington DC and Maryland.
  • Joining with Staten Island Borough President Oddo’s Office, NYS DEC and State Parks, NYC Parks hosted a public deer education forum at the Jewish Community Center on Staten Island in December 2015.
  • NYC Parks is hosting monthly programs on Staten Island and distributing educational flyers and tip sheet in three languages focused on deer and living with deer in New York City.
  • NYC DOT installed deer signs to 21 locations on Staten Island and rotating six additional variable message system (VMS) boards about deer to other key areas in Staten Island to alert drivers of possible deer sightings. They added a variable message system board about deer inside Pelham Bay Park at Shore Road between City Island Road and Orchard Beach road in December.
  • NYC DEP installed a $400,000 deer exclusion fence on Staten Island to protect a multi-million dollar investment in the restoration of a former municipal landfill, the Brookfield Landfill, which is slated to become a public park in 2017. NYC Parks has continued to install deer guards throughout Staten Island and the Bronx around newly planted trees.
For more information about tick-borne illness, visit nyc.gov/health or nyc.gov/deer.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez (347) 396-4177; pressoffice@health.nyc.gov;
Jennifer Sammartino, (718) 816-2000 (BP Oddo)