Author: Cynthia E. Field
Just ask Kim MacDonald. She can tell you how many customers of Pier Cleaners have had tick encounters.
"I was surprised....shocked," blurted MacDonald when asked to describe customer interest in the tick identification magnets that she and fellow Pier Cleaners staff have been offering to customers since spring. The eco-friendly dry cleaning and laundry service is located at 50 High Street, Wakefield, Rhode Island.
Phyllis Fish, one of the shop's owners, recalled how Dr. Thomas Mather from the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center (TERC) walked into the cleaners one day last spring and gave the store the first batch of 100 business-card size tick ID magnets. That first stack flew off the counter. So did the next 100. And the next.
In fact, Pier Cleaners has so far distributed more than 500 TERC tick identification magnets.
Each magnet features actual size images of the three species of ticks that one might encounter in New England: the familiar Dog Tick, the less common Lone Star Tick, and the prolific Deer Tick. With a glance at the images on the convenient refrigerator magnet, you can identify whether the tick you've found on yourself, your child, or your pet is one of these three species. The deer tick images on the magnet further help you determine which life cycle stage - larva, nymph, or adult - you have found. Correctly identifying the type of tick you've encountered can be important as only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease.
"People would see the magnets on the counter and ask, 'Can I have one?'," said MacDonald. "Then they'd ask, 'Can I have two?'," she chuckled. "You don't think [tickborne disease] is that prominent," MacDonald observed. "But so many people told me they had this tick disease or that one; some people said they were in the hospital," she added.
Among the newest community evangelists assisting in the effort to prevent tickborne diseases, Pier Cleaners is currently collaborating with URI's Dr. Mather to create an informational insert that the company plans to include with dry cleaning and laundry orders.
"I think [a flyer] is something that people would take home and read," said Kim MacDonald. "People who picked up the tick magnets wanted more information about ticks," she explained.
The company is taking yet another proactive step in its initiative to help educate customers about tick bite prevention: Phyllis Fish plans to add a link to the URI TickEncounter Resource Center when she next updates her company's web site.
Want to learn more about displaying TERC tick identification magnets at your business? Or do you simply want one for your refrigerator? Please contact us and we'll be happy to discuss with you.