06/03/14 12:00pm
06/03/2014 12:00 PM
The restaurant at the Blue Inn is currently only open to guests. The owner of the East Marion inn wants to change that. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The restaurant at the Blue Inn is currently only open to guests. The owner of the East Marion inn wants to change that. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Does the East Marion community want to eat at the Blue Inn? That’s a question that came up during a public hearing before the Southold Town Planning Board Monday night.  (more…)

11/24/13 4:00pm
11/24/2013 4:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Amber Abolafia of Orient plays with her daughter Dakota, 2, at Old Schoolhouse Park in East Marion, where she believes she was bit by a tick.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Amber Abolafia of Orient plays with her daughter Dakota, 2, at Old Schoolhouse Park in East Marion, where she believes she was bit by a tick.

Between daily naps and popping medicine to help with achy muscles and joints, 25-year-old Lyme disease patient Amber Abolafia of Orient has spent the last six months doctor shopping – looking for a physician who’s truly knowledgeable about her disease.

“It’s scary,” she said. “Our doctors are not informed enough and I don’t think they have the tools to be informed enough. There is just so much more to learn about the disease.”

Her struggle with Lyme led her to join more than 50 other area residents  many of whom also have issues with tick-borne illness – for an opportunity to hear from health experts at a special East Marion Community Association forum held last Saturday at the East Marion firehouse.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Rajeev Fernando of Southampton Hospital and Jerry Simons, certified physician’s assistant and expert contributor to the national publication Lyme Times magazine, spoke about illnesses common on the North Fork — and answered questions from anxious audience members.

The two have teamed up with Southampton Hospital to start the Tick Borne Disease Resource Center, which seeks to educate both health care professionals and the public about tick-borne illnesses — and the correct steps to take if one gets bitten.

The experts said differences in the way physicians test and treat patients can play a huge role in whether the patient is cured or left suffering and searching for answers.

“I am trying to just educate the local doctors and say, ‘This is what we should be doing,’ ” Dr. Fernando said.

In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an estimated 300,000 new cases of Lyme annually in the United States – a tenfold increase over the previous year’s estimate. Dr. Fernando said New York State leads the U.S. in reported cases.

“[The East End] is one of the worse tick areas in the country,” Mr. Simons said. “People in the area should be the smartest people on the planet about Lyme disease because it’s so bad out here.”

The experts spent most of their time discussing Lyme, which is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. The tick’s bite transfers the bacteria, which can cause fever, headache and fatigue and sometimes — less than half the time, according to Dr. Fernando — leaves a distinguishing bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, the nervous system and the brain, Dr. Fernando said.

Like many other diseases, Lyme disease comes in different strains — and experts warned those attending Saturday’s forum that not all tests check for all strains. Where patients get tested can also play a role in whether they are properly diagnosed, Mr. Simons said.

Commercial blood testing labs, such as Quest Diagnostics, test only for strains required by CDC and Food and Drug Administration. Mr. Simons suggested instead that people find a lab that tests for almost all known strains of the bacteria, such as one of the labs run by Stony Brook University.

While being tested for Lyme, they said, patients should also ask to be tested for other tick-borne diseases, because ticks can carry more than one disease, potentially giving people what’s called co-infections.

“It’s not unreasonable to ask your physician for a four-panel tick-borne disease test,” Dr. Fernando said.

The test, known more commonly as a TBD4 test, checks for Lyme, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis – the four most common tick-borne illnesses in this area, he said. Three of these will show up in tests almost immediately, but it can take up to four weeks for Lyme to register in any of these tests, Dr. Fernando said.

“Unfortunately a lot of doctors aren’t exposed to this and they do the blood test too soon,” he said. This means that some infected patients may walk away without being diagnosed. Should someone get bitten and see any sort of rash, Dr. Fernando said his suggested protocol would be to start antibiotic treatment and “tell your doctor it’s going to take four weeks to do the test.”

Ms. Abolafia of Orient was one of those Lyme disease patients who was tested the second she walked into a doctor’s office – about six days after she believed she was bitten. Luckily, she tested positive, she said.

But because of her ordeal, she’s now worried that she may be in the category of people who suffer from what’s known as chronic Lyme.

Ms. Abolafi a said she has been tested three times for the disease – and has gotten mixed results. In the past six-plus months, despite consulting several different doctors, she said she’s taken only 10 days’ worth of antibiotics, the minimum standard course of treatment according to CDC guidelines.

“If I could give advice to anyone, keep pushing your doctor until you get the care you need,” she said. “It’s never going to get better unless you become your own advocate.”

Dr. Fernando said there’s controversy regarding the treatment guidelines for patients who test positive for Lyme.

CDC guidelines for treating Lyme disease state that patients should be put on antibiotic such as Doxycycline for 10 to 21 days but Dr. Fernando said the guidelines should not be used as the end-all for all cases.

“The patient in front of you is what matters the most,” he said. “It’s important to think outside the guidelines in some cases.”

He said about 25 percent of patients may come back within six months of treatment, some suffering from chronic Lyme disease.

But experts are still fighting over whether this chronic stage of the disease even exists.

“It’s very political,” the doctor said.

[email protected]

11/22/13 10:36am
11/22/2013 10:36 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO |  Experts to discuss how to manage the deer population on the North Fork.

The East Marion Community Association is holding its second weekend meeting in a row on the topic of deer management, featuring environmental, health and town officials.

In September, Southold Town hosted a deer forum outlining the many dangers of overpopulation on the North Fork. The unchecked deer popular has reached crisis level in Southold, according to Supervisor Scott Russell.

“The deer infestation on the North Fork is one of the biggest public health crises we have,” Mr. Russell said.

Last weekend’s meeting at the East Marion fire house featured Dr. Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease specialist from Southampton Hospital, who discussed tick-borne diseases prevalent on the North Fork.

About 3,500 of the 35,000 deer in Suffolk County live in Southold Town, according to Joshua Stiller, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Only about 2,600 to 3,000 deer have been harvested across the county in each of the past three years, he said. A total of 598 deer have been killed through Southold Town’s deer management program since it began in 2008, including 212 a year ago.

Overpopulation is causing famers financial hardship due to loss of crop and  has increasingly become the source of a growing number tick-related illness, according to the supervisor.

Estimates reported this past summer suggest that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease nationwide is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number, due to misdiagnoses and unreported illnesses.

The meeting will take place at 10 a.m. at Poquatuck Hall on Village Lane in Orient.

Topics up for discussion include:

• Ecological damage to Dam Pond and other areas by Thomas Rasweiler, Southold Deer Management Task Force

• Deer Habits, sterilization and the “Four Poster” Program by Jeff Standish, Southold Town

• Tick-borne diseases including Babesiosis by Dr. Robert Walsh, Infectious Disease Specialist, ELIH

• Reducing deer herds to sustainable levels by Sherry Thomas, North Fork Deer Management Committee

• U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sharp Shooter Program by Don Stewart, North Fork Deer Management Committee

For more information contact the association at [email protected] or 631-477-2819.

11/14/13 2:32pm
11/14/2013 2:32 PM

DANIEL GILREIN COURTESY PHOTO | A blacklegged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick.

In an attempt to further educate the public on Southold Town’s battle against an escalating deer population, the East Marion Community Association is presenting a public forum on tick borne diseases this weekend.

In September, Southold Town hosted a deer forum outlining the many dangers of overpopulation on the North Fork. One of the most starling dangers was the rise in tick borne illness, according to Supervisor Scott Russell.

“The deer infestation on the North Fork is on of the biggest public health crises we have,” Mr. Russell said. “I’m not sure if everyone understands that on the state level and other branches of government. It’s one of the biggest single health crises we have because of tick borne illness. Ticks present a problem in their own right, but deer are excellent hosts. They are able to move the ticks and disease through out the entire community. Thrombosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease; these are big health risks and I think they are far more widespread than other agencies might think.“

Estimates reported this past summer suggest that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease nationwide is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number, due to misdiagnoses and unreported illnesses.

This Saturday’s seminar will feature Dr. Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease specialist from Southampton Hospital, who will discuss tick-borne diseases prevalent on the North Fork.

Gerald T. Simons, author of the “From the Expert” series in the Lyme Times, will also be on hand to provide information gathered by The Tick Borne Disease Alliance.

The forum is Saturday, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. at the East Marion Fire house. The event is free and opened to the public.

09/04/13 6:00pm
09/04/2013 6:00 PM
TROY GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Rabbit Lane in East Marion was among the streets hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy on the North Fork.

TROY GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Rabbit Lane in East Marion was among the streets hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy on the North Fork last October.

The East Marion Community Association will host “Southold Town Responds to Lessons from Sandy,” Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at the East Marion firehouse. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and refreshments.

The free presentation by Lloyd Reisenberg, town emergency coordinator, will focus on disaster planning and emergency response updates.

Contact Robin, 477-2819, [email protected].

05/26/11 9:06am
05/26/2011 9:06 AM

Southolders who make a lot of noise might not have long before the town starts cracking down.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on Southold Town’s first-ever noise ordinance, initially proposed over nine months ago, at a public hearing at Town Hall on July 5 at 7:30 p.m. Southold is the only East End town without a noise code on the books.

Last summer, after ever-increasing complaints about amplified music from a few venues in town, Town Board members said they hoped to have a noise code in place not long after Labor Day.

But after many residents said at a hearing in early October that they believed the noise restrictions in the proposed code — 65 decibels during the day and 50 decibels at night at the property line — were too stringent, the board spent several months attempting to schedule a meeting with a noise meter vendor, who would take a meter into the field to determine if those limits were acceptable.

That meeting never took place, but last Wednesday the board’s code committee examined noise ordinances in neighboring towns. They then decided the noise restrictions in the original draft needed little tweaking.

Southampton and East Hampton towns have very similar regulations on the books, limiting noise at the property line to 65 decibels during the day and 50 at night, while Shelter Island limits noise to 50 decibels at the property line at all times.

The first draft of Southold’s law limited noise to 50 decibels between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The new draft will allow 65 decibels until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The new draft also allows homeowners to use light residential outdoor equipment until 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

Since it was first proposed, the law has exempted construction work, noise from agricultural equipment, snowblowers, rescue personnel responding to emergencies and several other common sources of noise. The intent was to focus enforcement on amplified music that spills over into residential areas from bars and other businesses.

Councilman Chris Talbot said Tuesday he believes some confusion surrounding the initial code draft came from people not understanding where noise levels would be measured.

Noise analysts estimate that the sound generated by a normal conversation is between 60 and 70 decibels. That’s the level if a reading is taken right next to the people talking. If a reading is taken at the property when the people speaking are in the center of a two-acre lot, the decibel meter would likely not pick up any of the conversation.

The latest draft also attempts to precisely define which property line is to be used for taking a measurement. The initial draft read that it could be taken at “any lot line of the property on which such noise pollution is being generated.” The new draft states that it should be taken at “the property line closest to where the noise is generated.”

Some Town Board members found the early language confusing, arguing that the way it was phrased, if someone on Nassau Point in Cutchogue complained about noise coming from Greenport the measurement would be taken on the beach in Cutchogue.

Mr. Talbot said it makes sense to take the reading at the boundary of the property where the noise is originating.

“If it’s not over the decibel level at the property line, it’s not going to be over farther away,” he said.

Anne Murray, who lives near the former Blue Dolphin, long a source of loud music at night, welcomes the board’s action. (The Blue Dolphin was purchased by a South Fork hotel owner this winter and renamed the Inn at the Blue.)

“Thank you on behalf of the East Marion Community Association for finally putting a noise ordinance to public hearing,” Ms Murray said. “It’s something we were hoping would happen for a couple years now.”

On another code matter, a proposed law banning parking on most of Factory Avenue in Mattituck, which has long been plagued by truck traffic headed for the adjacent Mattituck shopping plaza, is also scheduled for public hearing on the evening of July 5.
The Factory Avenue restrictions would ban parking or standing at any time along the entire length of the street’s west side, and from the LIRR tracks north to Old Sound Avenue on the east. A 300-foot-long 30-minute loading area is proposed between the shopping plaza entrance and the railroad tracks.

Board members said Tuesday that the manager of Waldbaum’s supermarket told the town’s transportation commission that the shopping center’s owners, the Cardinale family, oppose the idea of having trucks in their lot instead of on the street while waiting to make deliveries.

“What he allows or doesn’t allow there is none of our business,” said Councilman Al Krupski. “It’s private property. He can tell them to leave.”

Though board members have expressed reservations in recent months about whether a parking ban is the best solution, they said Tuesday that they believe the best way to address the problem is to hear public comments and then make revisions, if necessary.

[email protected]