Mikki Weiss was honored by the Pike County Commissioners, May 1, for her advocacy, leadership and grit bringing the issue of tick borne diseases to the forefront in this county.

MILFORD - Mikki Weiss was honored by the Pike County Commissioners, May 1, for her advocacy, leadership and grit bringing the issue of tick borne diseases to the forefront in this county.

Her recognition came as a surprise to her, following the commissioners’ passage of Resolution 19-11, naming May 2019 as Tick Borne Diseases Awareness into Action Month.

Weiss is credited with forming the Pike County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force. It was August 2014, when Commissioner Matthew Osterberg was contacted by John Klemeyer, who had him speak with Weiss, a science educator, education consultant and author living in Milford. She had formed a private task force, and after a serious of meetings with the county, on May 20, 2015, the commissioners incorporated the task force as an official arm of the county government. The goals are to foster research, awareness and public education about Lyme disease and the several other pathogens carried by various forms of ticks.

She also formed the TBD Support Network, assisted in created the task force web site, coordinated the highly successful 2015 Tick Symposium, initiated the county-wide tick study and helped in establishing the Wayne Memorial Hospital TBD Wellness Center.

The commissioners’ recognition certificate for Weiss reads in part, “…We extend our gratitude and appreciation for all your hard work, time and effort you have devoted to establishing the Pike County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force. Without your determination in forging strategic partnerships that have helped to drive the Task Force forward we would not be where we are today. Pike County residents will have a healthier future because of your commitment to alleviating this epidemic.”

Christian Ferro, Field Representative for Rep. Rosemary Brown, also presented a plaque of recognition for Weiss, on behalf of Brown, Rep. Mike Peifer and Senator Lisa Baker.

Many supporters

Weiss commented, “Commissioners, my friends, colleagues… no man is an island. I could never have done without the dedication, cooperation and support of all of us.”
Osterberg countered, “This is all on you, Mikki. Everything we have done here is because of your hard work and talented efforts…”

Commissioner Steve Guccini said he came aboard after the county task force was in place. He admitted that ticks were not a high priority of his when he entered office, but thanked the Task Force for their determination in pressing this issue. “This is a major crisis in the county and nation, especially in Pennsylvania,” he said.

A woman in the audience added that as a person came forward afflicted, she knows how hard Weiss and the Task Force has worked to educate people on how to be well.
Dr. Robert Ollar, a microbiologist who is a member of the Task Force, added that they have been able to play a very crucial role in becoming a model for the state of Pennsylvania. He said they have take  the lead in doing a major county-wide survey of the major pathogens carried by ticks. He said this was because of Mikki Weiss’s leadership.

Easily misdiagnosed

As noted on the resolution, in the last five years, Pennsylvania ranked highest in the country in the number of confirmed cases of tick borne diseases. These diseases are not always presented with the tell-tale “bulls-eye” but can produce early symptoms including a rash or flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue, that can easily be misdiagnosed.

The Task Force advises that a “tick check” should be standard practice after spending time outdoors since residents and visitors can greatly cut their chance of tick pathogen transmission if they take proper steps while doing outdoor activities from early spring through late fall as well as in warm spells of winter.

The resolution further notes that early clinical diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these tick-borne disorders and diseases can greatly reduce the risks of continued, diverse and chronic symptoms. These symptoms can affect every system in the body.

Where to get help

Pike County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force hosts a support group for people with tick borne diseases and their families. The group meets on the second Saturday of the month from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Pike County Public Library, 119 East Hartford St., Milford.

Wayne Memorial Hospital offers a monthly support group for those affected by tick borne diseases. This group meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6 p.m., at the Pike County Lab & Radiology Suite, 750 Route 739 Lords Valley. For information call 570-775-4278.

Visit www.pikepa.org/tick.html for more information about preventing tick borne diseases, finding and removing ticks, symptoms and having a tick tested to see if it was a disease carrier.