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Tick talks target Martha’s Vineyard elementary school students – “There’s a giant tick,” a first-grader exclaimed as he recently walked into the Tisbury School gymnasium. But as he soon found, unlike most repulsive parasites of its kind, this one harbored helpful information instead of Lyme disease.

The giant tick was none other than Barnstable County public health nurse Deirdre Arvidson. She donned a costume complete with eight hairy legs to make presentations about ticks and Lyme disease to school children across Martha’s Vineyard on June 9 and 10.

Ms. Arvidson gave 10 presentations to elementary grade students in Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. The MV Tick-Borne Disease Committee (TBDC), made up of Island board of health members, physicians, and health and environmental management professionals, sponsored her presentations as part of a community health initiative.

“What do you know about ticks?” Ms. Arvidson asked first graders from teachers Abigail Hurlock’s and Barbara Lope’s classes during one of two presentations at Tisbury School.

Some children demonstrated a good grasp of basic facts, as Ms. Arvidson confirmed: “Ticks can bite you,” “They can suck your blood,” and “Some can give you diseases.”

A few others were off the mark. To the youngster that said, “Ticks can kill you,” Ms. Arvidson added the caveat, “Generally, they don’t.” And unlike bees, as she gently corrected another student, ticks don’t die when they bite you.

A collective “ooohhh” rose from the audience when Ms. Arvidson announced that, “Mama ticks can lay up to 3,000 eggs.”

Read the rest at The Martha’s Vineyard Times