Surge Does Not Necessarily Mean More West Nile Or Lyme Disease

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It may be time to brace for an uptick in blood-sucking ticks and mosquitoes this season, and some experts on Long Island have blamed the expected surge on Superstorm Sandy.

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As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday, it is not yet June, but Babylon homeowners have already seen a surge in the sometimes dangerous arachnids and insects and they want to know why.

“Mosquitoes and ticks are scaring me,” one woman said.

“They carry disease,” another said.

“The kids are getting all bit up, and then they get infections,” a third woman said.

Homeowners have been breaking out the bug spray, and entomologist Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann said that is a good thing.

“Hurricane Sandy may have carved gullies under streets and infrastructure where standing water can accumulate,” said Dr. Gangloff-Kaufmann, of Cornell University Integrated Pest Management.

The flooded gullies have made perfect backdrops for breeding mosquitoes, and ticks love hiding in debris fields that have accumulated on the shoreline, Gangloff-Kaufmann said.

“The fear is, you want to get out in front of it; you want to be ahead of the game. You don’t want to wait until it’s out of control,” said Ed Rhoades of the Mosquito Squad in Babylon.

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Vector control specialists are making house calls offering timely advice.

“One of things we’re looking at is, is there any standing water on the property,” Rhoades said. He pointed to one spot in a landscaped area. “There’s a puddle in there, and that’s creating a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.”

And ticks?

“Ticks are going to look for – you’re going to find them in high grasses. You’re going to find them in places of shade. They’re going to feed on those leaves, and they’re going to come out at night and really affect the homeowners here,” Rhoades said.

Experts said the rainy month of May this year, and expected soaring temperatures in days to come, could cause an explosion of mosquito larvae and dormant ticks. Deer fawning season is already underway, and people are picking up ticks already.

Now, not all mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus, and not all ticks transmit Lyme disease. Thus, experts said increased numbers will not necessarily mean an increased threat of illness this summer.

Both Nassau and Suffolk counties said spraying for mosquitoes and ticks will be considered earlier this summer.

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