Tag Archive | "Southampton Hospital"

Ditching the Drugs



In an effort to protect the environment, Southampton Hospital and pharmacist Bob Grisnick of Southrifty Drug  have teamed up to provide the safe and free disposal of needles and other medical “sharps” in a brand new container located in the Jagger Lane, Southampton pharmacy.

Without a place to dispose of items, they can be put into household garbage, which could interfere with the environment or also create a dangerous situation for both people and their pets. All residents are invited to take advantage of the free, new service, which will help to protect the area.

Local police stations in Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Southampton also have drop-off boxes where you can safely dispose of other medications.

Southampton Hospital Opens High-Tech Stroke and Heart Center


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The robotic arm of the Artis zeego allows patients to be scanned during procedures in Southampton Hospital’s brand new hybrid operating room. Photo courtesy of Southampton Hospital. 

By Mara Certic

Southampton Hospital this week opened the doors to is newest addition, the Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center, which includes brand new, state-of-the-art equipment and is expected to provide help for people suffering from vascular diseases from across the East End.

For the past two years, a committee comprised of nurses, doctors ,and architects has met every week to fine-tune plans for the new center, which will make surgeries more efficient, reduce recovery time and allow the hospital to perform procedures it has never been able to do before.

“Martin and I felt it was very important that our local hospital have the capability to conduct stroke and vascular distress intervention,” Audrey Gruss said in a press release issued by the hospital.

“Southampton Hospital is essential to all of us living in the East End, and we are honored to be part of its quest for excellence,” she added.

The new center, which was designed by Victor Famulari Architect, PC, was created in what was mostly pre-existing space. The brick façade blends in with the rest of the hospital’s exterior, but the inside of the new center looks more like an operating room from the future, than something one might expect in a small town hospital.

“I’m very excited. No, I’m beyond excited,” said Kathy Anderson, who has been an operating room nurse at the hospital for 24 years and sat on the planning committee for the new center.

Visitors to the center are met by a nurse’s station, new offices for nursing staff, and a centralized holding area for patients awaiting procedures. All the doors in the center open, not with a push or a pull, but with a simple wave of the hand, which will help  prevent the spread of germs and diseases.

A new sterile core area benefits the existing operating rooms, as well as the two new ultramodern ones. The rooms are kitted out with cutting edge technology. Where carts holding surgical equipment were once were rolled around operating rooms, and surgeons had to turn their heads to look at screens flashing vital statistics, now everything is connected by overhead boons that are bendable, extendable and attached to the ceiling to allow for a full range of motion.

Electric sockets are now five feet up, which the designers say will increase efficacy, and there are six different television screens visible to surgeons in the new operating rooms.

One of the brand new operating rooms will mainly be used for orthopedic, bariatric and general surgeries.

The other operating room, the pièce de résistance of the whole addition, is a hybrid endovascular surgical suite, which will allow hospital surgeons to perform operations they’ve never been able do before.

The nurses, doctors, and managers are most excited about a new Siemens Healthcare Artis zeego, which is an advanced angiography system with unprecedented flexibility. In other words, it allows surgeons to perform CAT scans and visualize internal organs right in the operating room, completely eliminating inefficient movement of patients and providing a new sort of immediacy.

“Both the Stryker technicians and the Siemens technicians who helped us in the installation said bar none this is the nicest, best designed hybrid room of this type in the entire tri-state area,” said Dr. Fredric Weinbaum, executive vice president for operations and the chief medical officer for Southampton Hospital, during a tour of the new facility in March.

The almost dinosaur-like robotic arm of the Artis zeego allows the equipment to be moved into almost any position around the patient.

“Everything you can do in an angiogram suite, you can do here,” Dr. Weinbaum said in the hybrid operating room.

The new suite will allow surgeons to use stents and catheters to perform surgeries that previously were only available to patients at Stony Brook University Hospital, and facilities even further afield.

Carotid stenting and arterial intervention will allow surgeons to treat those with vascular diseases and do preventive surgery for aneurysms.

“Interventional surgery is the future,” Ms. Anderson said.

“We used to repair aneurysms with an incision this big,” she said, pointing from her sternum to her navel. With the new machine, an extending stent will be inserted through a small incision in the groin, dramatically decreasing the size of the scar and reducing recovery time in the hospital from seven to 10 days to 24 hours.

According to Dr. Weinbaum, two doctors from Stony Brook University Hospital have already received privileges to use the cutting edge technology in Southampton, which will allow them to treat their East End patients a little closer to home.

“And of course,” Dr. Weinbaum said, “we have the one thing that all surgeons want.” No, not a scalpel sharpener, but a state-of-the-art sound system which connects to iPads, iPhones and other musical devices.

“The end result is all about what’s best for the patient,” Dr. Weinbaum said.  “And what’s good for the surgeon is good for the patient.”

Successful Fund Drive


Rogers Center Group Steps Best 082614

Staff of the David E. Rogers, MD Center. (l. to r.) Michael Collins, Susan Wojcik, Jennifer Joly, PA, Emily Hernandez, Sandra Angelella, Maureen Coley, LCSW, and Brianne Fox, PA.

A combination of private philanthropy, personal appeals, and an online campaign hosted by goodcircle.org has generated more than  $15,000 to support the Wellness Fund at Southampton Hospital’s David E. Rogers, MD Center.

Since it was created in 2009, the fund has enabled more than 135 people to receive on-going quality care for HIV/AIDS.

Unaffordable and unexpected out-of-pocket costs can deter people from seeking long term care. The Wellness Fund helps to ensure that patients managing HIV/AIDS are not denied care for lack of financial resources.

Over the next two years, the $15,000 raised will provide a range of care services to about 60 individuals managing HIV/AIDS on eastern Long Island. Support services include: medical and prescription assistance, hospital-based integrative medicine, nutritional support, and transportation assistance.

With just over $6,000 needed to reach the $21,525 goal for providing support to 80 individuals through 2017, the fundraising campaign will continue until February 6.

To learn more about the center, view the campaign video, or make a donation, please visit goodcircle.org and enter David E. Rogers Center for HIV Care in the search box. Checks can be sent to Southampton Hospital Foundation, 240 Meeting House Lane, Southampton, NY 11968. For more information about the center, call (631) 287-5990.

SUNY Board of Trustees Unanimously Approves Stony Brook-Southampton Hospital Merger

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By Mara Certic

After more than two years of negotiations, the first step was taken toward a merger between Southampton and Stony Brook University hospitals on Tuesday when the full SUNY Board of Trustees approved the long-awaited alliance.

The board unanimously approved an affiliation agreement between the two hospitals after hearing from a member of its five-member Academic Medical Centers and Hospitals Committee.

SUNY’s hospital subcommittee, which was appointed to make recommendations about the university’s health centers, unanimously supported the affiliation agreement between the two hospitals on Monday morning, finally moving it out of committee.

Trustee Cary Staller gave the presentation to his fellow board members, filling in for the committee chairman John Murad, who was watching the meeting via webcam.

Mr. Staller explained the committee is in favor of the integration and affiliation agreement, as it is formally called, on three conditions. The first is that Stony Brook University and Stony Brook University Hospital are not allowed to seek funding from the state or SUNY for capital projects related to the affiliation on the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

Southampton Hospital has shared some services with Suffolk County’s largest hospital since 2008. The two medical centers signed a letter of intent in October of 2012, which said Southampton would operate under Stony Brook’s license, in hopes that a new facility would be built on Stony Brook Southampton’s 85-acre campus.

The first condition of the merger does not in any way put a damper on those plans, according to Robert Chaloner, president and CEO of Southampton Hospital.

“We never were looking for money from the state to do that,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “We always believed the hospital should be built with private philanthropy.”

The second provision is that Stony Brook University Hospital must establish sufficient cash reserves to cover Southampton Hospital’s liabilities and the final condition stipulates that Stony Brook University Hospital must come up with a comprehensive plan for the integration including specific tasks and milestones.

According to Mr. Chaloner, the merger will allow Southampton Hospital some security at a time when long-term trends for small, independent hospitals “are not great.”

Mr. Chaloner said the two hospitals hope to work side-by-side to extend healthcare teaching programs, share and improve information technology and tap into each other’s resources.

There is a chance of coordinating the Meeting House Lane practices with Stony Brook University Hospital, he said, which has a similar organization.

“We’d like to tie things together, but if anything that’ll be somewhere we need to go full speed ahead,” he said, adding that there is a huge need for more doctors on the East End. For that reason, there will be no employee cuts as a result of this merger.

“One of the major fundamentals is to ensure employees stay in place and that they retain their current union memberships,” he said.

“We don’t want people to leave, we need everybody,” Mr. Chaloner said. “This is a merger to bring two organizations together to grow, not to cut.”

All 18 members of the board voted in favor of the resolution. Trustee Eunice Lewin said she had been concerned about the merger until she visited Southampton Hospital and was “pleasantly surprised.”

Dr. Samuel Stanley, president of Stony Brook University Hospital, was at Tuesday’s meeting and thanked the board.

“It’s not completed yet, there’s still work to be done, but this is an extraordinarily important first step,” he said.

“For both Southampton Hospital and for Stony Brook, this is a win-win in every sense of the word,” he said, “We look forward to the implementation process.”

“This affiliation is a step in the right direction for expanding and improving health care on the South Fork. Both Stony Brook and Southampton Hospital officials are to be commended for their efforts,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said in a press release issued on Tuesday.

“Assemblyman Thiele and I have worked hard to impress upon the SUNY system the need and benefits of bringing these two hospitals together and commend the Board of Trustees for recognizing the changing face of healthcare and advancing this initiative,” Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said in the same release.

“The possibilities are endless. This affiliation could help revitalize the Stony Brook Southampton campus by bringing in new health care based academic programs, and also a new state-of-the-art hospital at the Southampton campus. The agreement could serve as an anchor, ensuring that the college be a permanent fixture in our community,” Mr. Thiele added.


Southampton Hospital Preps for Ebola–Just in Case

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A sign in 10 different languages in the emergency room entrance at Southampton Hospital provides a warning to patients who think they have contracted the Ebola virus.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Up until the end of September, the Ebola virus was of little concern to most Americans. The deadly disease seemed to be confined to three countries in Western Africa—Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

But then Thomas Erin Duncan, 42, a Liberian who was visiting relatives in Dallas, fell ill and died on October 8 from Ebola. Since then, three other Americans have been diagnosed with the disease, including two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan, and Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York physician, who was infected while working with Physicians Without Borders in Guinea, and remains hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital in the city.

In the meantime, Southampton Hospital, like other medical centers across the country, is taking its own precautions to deal with the deadly disease.

Following the guidelines set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, the hospital has set up an isolation room in its emergency department in the event that a patient suffering from the symptoms of Ebola should arrive at the hospital, even though there have not been any reported cases in Suffolk County.

“I would think this is something everyone is taking very seriously,” said hospital spokeswoman Marsha Kenny on Monday. Officials at the hospital are monitoring the situation in both Western Africa and the United States, she said. “We want to make sure our staff is trained and drilled in the protocols. Safety is key.”

Prominently displayed at the hospital’s main entrances are signs in English, Spanish, Chinese and at half dozen other languages asking if visitors have been in Western Africa recently and are exhibiting any of the symptoms of Ebola, which begins with the victim getting a fever.

The problem, Ms. Kenny said, is that the disease has many of the same symptoms as the flu or malaria.

“If you have a fever you should go to the emergency department, and they will ask you a number of questions” to help pinpoint whether you could be suffering from the disease. If so, “you will be accompanied to an isolation room in the emergency department,” Ms. Kenny said. “We will call the department of health and also notify our infectious disease section.”

If the hospital were to receive an Ebola victim, the patient would be transferred as soon as possible to Stony Brook University Hospital, which is the regional center for dealing with the disease, she said.

“We would not be treating the patient here in Southampton,” Ms. Kenny said. “People would be taken by Stony Brook ambulance. Local volunteers would not be involved.”

But in the event a patient calls a local volunteer ambulance service to take them to Southampton Hospital, additional safeguards are in place.

Ed Downes, the president of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said volunteers are receiving training through the county in how to deal with an Ebola patient.

“The dispatchers will have a bunch of questions they’ll ask that will be able to narrow it down,” he said. “If it is a suspected Ebola case, the Stony Brook ambulance would come out and take them straight to Stony Brook.”

Ebola can only be spread if someone comes in direct contact with the bodily fluids of a victim.

As might be expected, the hospital has obtained a supply of bio-hazard suits for staffers to wear in the event someone suffering from the symptoms of Ebola comes to the hospital for treatment, and any staffers who would come in contact have been trained in how to avoid spreading the contagion.

In addition, the hospital is asking anyone who has an appointment at any of its outpatient facilities to answer questions about whether they could have been exposed to the disease. If so, they will be asked to stay home until the department of health contacts them.

This week, all of the Meeting House Lane Medical Practice offices, which are affiliated with the hospital, will also have the warning signs posted, as will the hospital’s outpatient facilities across the South Fork. Managers of each of those facilities will also be undergoing training in what to do in the event that an Ebola victim come in.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has a statement from Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken stating that it is “working closely with all area hospitals, first responders and support agencies to be prepared to deal with a range of issues which may arise to protect public health If any member of the public has questions, please all 854-0333.”

Free Community Flu Clinic


The turning of leaves on the East Coast marks the beginning in earnest of several seasons: the holiday season, football season and, unfortunately, flu season.

Southampton Hospital will be hosting a free community flu clinic to help East End residents keep their winter sniffle-free. Southampton Hospital will give out free flue shots on Wednesday, October 29, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Parrish Memorial Hall in Southampton.

All patients must be 18 years or older and come with a valid form of identification. Appointments are not required, but the offer is subject to availability.

The Parrish Memorial Hall is located at the corner of Herrick Road and Lewis Street in Southampton. For more information call (631) 726-8200.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Southampton Hospital and the Coalition for Women’s Cancers at the hospital have planned a slew of events to increase awareness and raise funds to support local breast cancer survivors, starting with the lighting of a Pink Ribbon Tree at the Southampton Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

Other events include a Breast Cancer Awareness Health Fair on Friday, October 3, at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.;  the fourth annual Breast Cancer Summit at The Coral House in Baldwin from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7; the Give Where You Live Campaign Kickoff at Parrish Memorial Hall at Southampton Hospital at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, October 8; Look Good, Feel Better at the Hampton Bays Library on October 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. the Shelter Island 5k Run/Walk on October 18 at 11 a.m. at Crescent Beach on Shelter Island; a Birdhouse Auction at the Southampton Social Club on Elm Street at 6 p.m. on October 18; a Shopping Benefit at Calypso at 21 Newtown Lane in East Hampton on October 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.; and Free Makeovers for Breast Cancer Survivors at Macy’s in Hampton Bays on October 24 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition, there will be three Charity of the Month promotions. Sabrosa Mexican Grill on Montauk Highway in Water Mill will donate the total bill amount for the 100th customer each day in October to the Coalition for Women’s Cancers. The Deborah Thompson Day Spa at the Plaza in Montauk will donate 10 percent from all treatments during the month, and Panera Bread on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of pink ribbon bagels to the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program and the The Breast Cancer Research Program at Cold Spring Harbor Research Laboratory during the month.

For more about the various breast cancer awareness events, call (631) 726-8715.

Panel Talks Ticks in Sag Harbor

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tick 2014-09-20 10.25.05


Deirdre the Tick greeted people arriving for a panel discussion sponsored by Southampton Hospital’s Tick-Borne Disease Center at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

A human sized deer tick named Deirdre, who would have given Godzilla a run for his money at the box office, stood at the foot of Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf Saturday morning, greeting the audience arriving at Bay Street Theater for “Tick-Borne Diseases: What You Should Know.”

After Deirdre hammed it up a bit for the cameras before the event, sponsored by Southampton Hospital’s Tick Borne Disease Center, things got serious.

Robert Chaloner, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, said the hospital had launched the tick center earlier this year to provide information to the growing number of East Enders who have come down with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases such as babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.

“As public health people we believe the best way to combat disease is through education,” he said, noting that the goal of the center is to educate both the public and health practitioners.

Another goal, he said, is to provide the public with help to find they kind of medical services they need to cope with tick-borne diseases. To that end, Deborah Maile, a registered nurse, will be available by phone at (631) 726-TICK to answer questions, Mr. Chaloner said.

According to one of the panelists, Dr. Steven Schutzer, a physician and professor at Rutgers-NJ Medical School, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now estimates that there are more than 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease a year, which he largely attributed to better reporting. Not long ago, he added, the estimate was perhaps 30,000. By comparison, there are about 54,000 reported cases of salmonella a year, 10,500 cases of tuberculosis and about 5,700 cases of West Nile virus.

Despite improvements in recognizing Lyme, Dr. Schutzer said better tests are needed and researchers are working to provide them. Because Lyme is a slow developing disease—it can take 12 weeks to create a measurable lab culture—it is essential that more blood tests are developed, he said.

Treatment has also lagged, said Dr. Benjamin Luft, a physician and professor at the Stony Brook School of Medicine.

“Since the late 1980s and 90s, we have not been 100 successful” in treating Lyme and “we are stymied as to how to go forward,” he said.

If Lyme is diagnosed and treated early, “it is cured in the vast majority of patients,” he said, while acknowledging that a small number of patients to not respond well to typical treatment, which, he said, is also common among other diseases.

“If I treat you early, there’s no problem. Virtually everyone gets cured,” he said. “If I wait a week, two, four, six weeks, or six months, all of a sudden the ability to treat effectively diminishes.”

He complained that insurance companies are shirking their responsibility in providing coverage, governments are failing to invest enough in research and drug manufacturers are unwilling to take the risk of developing new tests and drugs.

Coming up with a vaccine against Lyme has proven to be difficult, he added, because Lyme has so many different strains. Lyme disease in Connecticut is different than Lyme in New York “and that is just across the Sound.”

Dr. Erin McGintee of East Hampton addressed the growing concern about the Alpha-Gal meat allergy, which she called “midnight anaphylasis.” The allergy to fatty red meats is caused by the bite of the Lone Star tick. Typically patients will get bitten by a tick and a week or two later, they will develop a serious allergic reaction after consuming red meat that includes swelling, redness, hives, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and other symptoms. Often the symptoms appear late at night, typically after the sufferer has consumed red meat at dinner.

She said the allergy could be passed to humans by the bite of Lone Star tick larvae, the only tick larvae to feed on humans and which are often mistaken for chiggers, she said. Lone Star ticks, which were typically found only in the southeast, are now found in half the country.

Since 2011, Dr. McGintee said she has diagnosed 208 cases and now is diagnosing as many as three or four each week.

Physician assistant Jerry Simons focused on offering practical advice for avoiding ticks. Ticks hate the smell of lavender, he said, suggesting that East End residents use soaps and shampoos with that fragrance, spray their yards with insecticide and apply permethrin to their shoes. He also recommended using insect repellent when out in areas where ticks are commonplace. Homeowners should remove piles of leaves and brush from their property to limit nesting options for mice, and he also suggested getting rid of bird baths and bird feeders because birds can carry ticks as well. Mr. Simon added that ticks will typically not cross a 3-foot barrier of wood chips, so he suggested residents might want to ring their property with one.

“The days of having your dog sleep in your bed are really over,” he added, noting that pets often bring ticks into the house.

“Each time I listen to these lectures, I want to go home and wrap myself in Saran Wrap, douse myself with Deet and hid under a rock,” Mr. Chaloner said during the morning’s presentation, “but clearly that is no way to live.”

New Hunting Permits Proposed for North Haven

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By Mara Certic

Although reportedly overrun by deer and ticks, the North Haven Village Board is proposing a local law that would require all hunters in the village to acquire special permits.

The proposal comes several months after the New York State reduced the mandatory setbacks from residences for bow hunters from 500 feet to 150 feet.

“We wanted to exercise some control over that,” Mayor Jeff Sander said at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 2.  “We wanted to make sure they had a track record with us,” he said.

Hunters must get a homeowner’s approval to hunt on their property. Apparently North Haven homeowners have already started receiving requests from hunters to take aim at deer on their land. “It’s also a cruelty issue—you want someone who’s really competent,” said Mr. Sander.

The proposed law states, “In all events any person authorized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation shall also be authorized by the village and no person shall discharge any bow and arrow or similar weapon except while carrying a permit issued by the Village of North Haven.”

“To hunt in North Haven, you have to be approved by North Haven,” Mr. Sander said. A public hearing on the new law will take place at next month’s meeting on Tuesday, October 7, at 5 p.m. at the North Haven Village Hall.

Mayor Sander also gave a deer management update during Tuesday’s meeting. “We are primarily focused on reducing the herd,” he said.

He added that the village has a challenge “to continue to aggressively hunt in the season.”

The village is also still considering surgical sterilization of deer, which East Hampton Village will take part in this winter. Sterilization is an expensive process, Mr. Sander said, and costs approximately $1,000 per deer. He intends to invite White Buffalo Inc., the organization which perform the sterilizations, to North Haven and said that local volunteers could help keep the cost down.

The village is working on determining the best sites for four-poster stations, which apply insecticide to deer as they feed. The village will deploy 10 of them in early April, he said.

Trustee Thomas J. Schiavoni has been looking into Lyme disease throughout the village and will begin to do “tick drags” in the Autumn in order to measure the tick-density. Mr. Schiavoni said he has been in touch with Senator Kenneth P. LaValle’s office, to see if the state might be able to measure how many of the ticks are infected with diseases.

Mr. Schiavoni also announced the Southampton Hospital Tick Resource Center will hold an informational presentation at Bay Street Theater at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 20.

East End Experiences Lone Star Menace

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The distinctively marked lone star tick. Photo from www.sciencedaily.com

The distinctively marked lone star tick. Photo from www.sciencedaily.com














An increase in the number of lone star ticks poses a threat.

By Sam Mason-Jones

The summer of 2014 has witnessed a rise in the transmission of tick-borne diseases, which has coincided with the prevalence of aggressive lone star ticks. It continues a trend which has seen a 126 percent increase in cases of ehrlichiosis, a diseased caused solely by lone star ticks, in the state of New York since 2010.

Ticks have posed a long-standing problem to the people of Long Island. The East End, in particular, has suffered, with the vast majority of its residents having experienced ticks- whether through the occasional bite or by contracting one of the many tick-borne diseases, the most common being Lyme disease.

The first months of this summer, though, have seen a distinct rise in public wariness and worry about the dangers spawned by these belligerent arachnids. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. noted,  “The extent and severity of the tick-borne disease cases on the East End has escalated to the point of a public health crisis.”

Reported cases of Lyme disease in New York state have risen from 5,589 in 2010 to 6,816 in 2013, with the incidence rates of other tick-borne diseases babesiosis and anaplasmosis both doubling in the same time frame.

This mood of raised awareness has been reflected in the decision taken by State Senator Ken LaValle to combat the problem head on. As such, it was reported earlier this month that Senator LaValle had secured $150,000 of state funding specifically for the purpose of fighting tick-borne disease in the East End.

Speaking to this end, Senator LaValle said, “With the high incidence of these tick-borne illnesses on the East End, we need to work to eradicate the diseases and end the transmission to individuals. I look forward to working with the towns and villages to monitor the planned initiatives and the results so we can better develop a long-term effective tick management strategy.”

Gerald T. Simons of Southampton Hospital’s Tick-Born Disease Resource Center explained the surge in cases of tick-borne diseases, and the resultant precautions come as a result of the recent numeral escalation of the particularly malevolent lone star tick.

“Five or six years ago, we would only see a patient with a lone star tick bite on a very rare occasion,” said Mr. Simons, “but now it seems to be the predominant type that we see people being bitten by.”

The amblyomma americanum, or lone star tick, is a species of tick that is easily identifiable by the distinctive white spot found on its back. Found most commonly in wooded areas, particularly in forests with thick underbrush or large trees, it is indigenous to much of the US, with distribution ranging from Texas to Iowa in the Midwest, and east to the coast where they can survive as far north as Maine.

Though the lone star ticks only transmit Lyme disease in extremely rare cases, they often carry the harmful ehrlichia bacteria. Ehrlichia, when transmitted to humans, can produce serious diseases like ehrlichiosis and tularemia.

Unlike Lyme disease, which can lay dormant for weeks without producing any notable symptoms, ehrlichia tends to bring out reasonably obvious symptoms within 48 hours of an infectious tick bite. These symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, muscle pains, swollen glands and a circular rash, not dissimilar from that brought out by Lyme.

The early arrival of these symptoms often aid the swift diagnosis of diseases caused by the ehrlichia bacteria, and they can therefore be effectively treated with antibiotics. However the lone star tick also causes another, more devastating malady.

Recently there has been a number of cases in which lone star tick bites have caused meat allergies, with victims instilled with an unprecedented and total aversion to red meat. The breaching of this allergy has resulted in hives, swelling and breathing problems, with full anaphylactic shock being brought on in some cases.

This problem is the result of a sugar called alpha-gal being passed from the lone star tick to its human host, who’s immune system detects it as an invader and builds up antibodies against it. Therefore, when the alpha-gal present in red meats like beef, pork and venison comes into contact with the body, the antibodies do what they can to keep out what they believe to be harmful invaders, where the alpha-gal would have previously been broken down by the stomach.

The rising wariness of the lone star tick has been accentuated by its reputation as particularly aggressive, seeming to be more intent on latching on to a host.

“Unlike a deer tick, which will just sit on some grass and wait for a mammal to pass, the lone star tick is sensitive to the carbon dioxide given off by people, and will actively pursue that.” said Mr. Simons. “It is more than capable, for example, of moving across a yard to where it knows people are.”

Mr. Simons went on to explain that the harsher winters experienced by the east coast in recent years had actually exacerbated this problem.

“People are always asking, ‘If we have such a long, cold winter, how are these ticks surviving?’” he added. “And though we’ve seen a slight decrease in the number of tick bites being reported over the winter, the ticks that do survive are the most infectious, the most virulent, and the most angry.”

For more information about tick-borne diseases and prevention, contact the Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center at Southampton Hospital, either at (631) 726-TICK or through its website www.southamptonhospital.org/services/tick-borne-disease-resource-center.