It all began innocently enough while planning to write a timely column about ticks: how to avoid them, how to identify them and what to do if you find one imbedding itself into your skin. I broached …
It all began innocently enough while planning to write a timely column about ticks: how to avoid them, how to identify them and what to do if you find one imbedding itself into your skin. I broached the topic in last week’s editorial meeting, including the fact that I thought I might be able to score an interview with Jill Hubert-Simon, Sullivan County’s public health educator and expert on all things tick. Note: at that time, the River Reporter’s graphics guru (and occasional contributing writer) Amanda Weisenmiller said nothing. Nothing.
After getting the go-ahead to pursue the topic, and in an effort to help raise public awareness, I contacted Jill, affectionately known around town as “the tick chick” because of her extensive knowledge on the subject, and happily, she agreed. “I don’t know exactly why,” Jill said, “but the ticks are particularly horrible this year.”
“I coulda told you that,” I said in response. I’ve picked ‘em off myself, discovered ‘em crawling on various surfaces in the house—I even found a dead tick on the dog. At least the protection I get for her from the vet is working,” I said in exasperation. “What can we share with our readers?” I asked. “Especially those new to the region. This will hopefully help them avoid Lyme disease, something that has been steadily on the rise for a number of years.”
Jill mentioned that with tick-borne illnesses appearing all over the U.S., tick testing is more important than ever. “If you’re bitten by an infected tick, you may not know you’re infected for days or weeks,” she said. “But if you have the tick tested for harmful pathogens, you’ll be able to seek treatment ahead of the symptoms, increasing your chances of staying healthy.”
That all sounded vaguely familiar, but I chalked it up to studying the subject a few years ago, when both Dharma the Wonder Dog and I were simultaneously diagnosed with Lyme disease. Jill and I then proceeded to discuss what to do to protect ourselves; the Tick Chick provided more helpful hints:
“Wow, man” I said. “I’m having a serious déjà vu.” Thanking Jill for her time and expertise, I called Amanda to discuss photos and space constraints for my column. I told her that I was planning to call this one “Ticked Off” feeling terribly clever and witty.
“Umm, I’m not sure how to tell you this, but I already wrote a piece with that exact title,” she said. “Two years ago.”
“You did what?” I stammered. “Is that why it all sounds so freakin’ familiar? Wait,” I said. “What? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I coulda told you that,” Amanda said with a laugh, “but I guess I was busy multi-tasking when you brought it up in the meeting last week. Sorry about that. I’m sending it to you right now. Check your inbox.”
Sure enough, Amanda had expertly written an article replete with extensive and thorough coverage of the subject, including all of the points Jill and I had discussed, and then some. And it was indeed published in the River Reporter’s lifestyle magazine “Explore the Great Outdoors” in 2019. Oy.
Shaking my head, I read Amanda’s well-researched article which broadly covers the subject better (IMHO) than I could, and includes info on different types of ticks and how to protect ourselves along with graphics, charts, notes and photos to illustrate her point. In other words, virtually everything I was planning on writing today. Sighing, I saved the article to my computer and made a mental note to avoid internal plagiarism and check with Amanda first in the future, just in case she responds with “I coulda told you that.”
To read Amanda’s full article, go to www.riverreporter.com/stories/ticked-off,34251?.
For more information on the Sullivan County Department of Health Services, go to www.sullivanny,us/Departments/Publichealth or call 845/292-5910.
Fun Fact: Ticks have been around for about 300 million years, according to evolutionary biologists, and today there are 878 known species. They are found on every continent.