New Lyme disease campaign being filmed in Ridgefield this summer

From left to right: Selectman Rudy Marconi, “Fran the Tick,” and Neeta Connally filming on location in Ridgefield on July 18. — Peggy Stewart photo

Many films have picked Ridgefield as a location, but this is the first time our local ticks have played a starring role. Tick researchers at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) together with their Media Services Department and the Ridgefield BLAST Prevention Program began filming their first Lyme disease public service campaign in July at various Ridgefield residential locations.

The campaign, led by medical entomologist and associate professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Dr. Neeta Connally, includes five videos teaching effective ways to reduce the number of ticks in backyard settings. The series, titled “Spray Safe, Play Safe”, will answer many of the tick-borne disease prevention questions that Connally, a Ridgefield resident and scientific advisor for the town’s BLAST Prevention Program, is regularly asked by friends, neighbors, and other members of the community. The short films explain the science behind backyard tick treatment choices, both synthetic and natural, so that residents can make informed decisions when selecting tick control products or hiring companies to help with backyard tick management. “We are often approached by homeowners who want to know the best ways to reduce ticks near their home and protect their families from Lyme disease. Sometimes they find the information available to them to be a little confusing or hard to navigate,” Connally explained. “Our goal is to create short informational videos and decision-making tools that simplify the science into a more understandable format. We want to help residents avoid practices that can increase pesticide exposure risk to themselves or to the environment, or that may be ineffective at reducing risk.” The videos will debut with a “Spray Safe, Play Safe” movie premiere at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Spring 2019, and event sponsors include Western Connecticut Health Network and Lyme Connection. Some well-known community members, including First Selectman Rudy Marconi, are supporting the effort by making cameo appearances in the short videos.

The “Spray Safe, Stay Safe” campaign is made possible by a $25,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Healthy Communities Grant awarded to Western Connecticut State University and the Ridgefield Health Department’s BLAST Prevention Program. The WCSU-Ridgefield Health Department collaboration was one of 11 projects chosen from more than 70 submissions in New England. Its selection reflects growing national concern about the incidence and seriousness of tick borne diseases. The goal of the collaboration is to help families make more informed tick-management decisions to decrease the number of people — especially children — who suffer from tick borne diseases such as Lyme disease. Children are of special concern because Lyme disease incidence is most commonly reported in children under age 10.

Additional information about Lyme disease prevention can be found at: www.Blastlyme.org

 

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