TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – State Senator Susan Serino (R, Hyde Park) hosted an event at the Poughkeepsie Galleria mall on Sunday designed to educate children and families on Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
The event brought out a number of local organizations with interactive activities to help mall-goers learn about the disease and how to prevent it.
The cause holds special meaning for Serino, whose brother suffered from the disease after not being diagnosed for over 10 years and whose son was thought to have had symptoms but is healthy now.
“It’s amazing how some people are so debilitated,” she said. “Any time I can talk ticks, I will do it.”
Dutchess County Legislator Donna Bolner (R-13), who serves as chairwoman of the Tick Task Force, noted it is important to raise awareness of Lyme disease all year long.
“They are just as at risk as they are at the beginning of tick season and we are always competing with the flu season and since some of the symptoms can actually mimic one another, I would really hate for our residents to discount the fact that they got a tick in the fall and then think that it’s flu instead of tick-borne disease and not treat it as such because otherwise they could become chronic by the spring before they figure out that it’s actually a tick-borne disease rather than the flu,” Bolner said
Matthew Frye and Cassandra Guarino from Cornell University both came to represent the university’s research on tick-borne illnesses.
“We are excited that Senator Serino is creating these events where the public comes for us,” said Frye. “People are already here [at the mall], and we can teach people about tick-borne disease who may not otherwise easily access this information.”
Guarino, a veterinary medicine professor, addressed the impact of tick-borne diseases on people and animals. “It’s important for me to make sure people are aware of the risks associated with being bitten by ticks,” she said. “Today is an opportunity for me to share that awareness.”
A tick mascot named Luna made an appearance on behalf of the Lyme Disease Network and was happy to represent the cause. Alyssa Kogon, district coordinator for Serino, served as interpreter for Luna.
“It’s very important that the tick is represented here in the community so young children can immediately find out what’s wrong and go to find help,” Kogon said.