Barnstable County Officials Urge Residents and Visitors to Continue Tick Testing

BARNSTABLE – Barnstable County officials are encouraging residents and visitors who are bitten by ticks to get the insects tested for disease – even if they have to pay for it themselves.

County entomologist Larry Dapsis said a $30,000 grant program funded through Cape Cod Healthcare to help pay for the testings recently expired.

He explained that the funding subsidized the expense for residents from 50 dollars to just 15 dollars.

“The program was based on going from January to September or until the funds ran out, and unfortunately we burned up 30 thousand dollars a little over a week ago, the program was really popular,” said Dapsis

After roughly 5 hundred ticks were sent in to UMASS Amherst’s from the area the county is once again in search of more funding opportunities.

In the meantime, officials urge residents and visitors to continue the testing out-of-pocket in order to catch potential tick-born disease early.

The program served the duel purpose of letting residents know if they had been exposed to disease while also allowing the county to gather crucial data about the community, and Dapsis sees no reason for that to stop,

“A piece of data is peace of mind, this is still valuable data in our minds,” he said, “This is important information the doctor because it gives them a better handle on how they should be evaluating you, so we think that for 50 dollars you still get a lot of data to ease your mind.”

Dapsis said that this is a particularly important time of year to be vigilant about the dangers posed by ticks to both people and pets.

He recommends performing regular tick checks as well as using permethrin treated clothing and footwear when venturing outdoors particularly at this time of year when ticks are in their “nymph stage” and only about the size of a poppy seed.

“That nymph stage tick is responsible for 85% of tick-born disease.”

For decades, the Cape and Islands had the highest rates of tick related illnesses in Massachusetts.

But focused efforts from state and local health and environmental agencies have seen local disease rates remain flat while others across the Commonwealth have continued to rise.


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