Author: Cynthia E. Field | May 13, 2013
Attention, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania! There's a community activist in your midst but he's not organizing voter registration or trying to prevent homelessness. His is a more covert mission fighting an insidious enemy - the blacklegged tick and its potentially devastating disease cargo.
For the past three years, Bob Oley - a Master's degree graduate of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health - has been proactively recruiting police officers, school officials, state and municipal workers, and, more recently, local mothers to join his campaign to prevent tick bites and stop Lyme Disease and other tickborne illnesses from making further inroads into eastern Pennsylvania.
"I didn't realize our area was such a high risk area for ticks," admitted Adriana Motto, President of the Greater Ambler Area Moms Club, a chapter of the International Moms Club which supports the concerns of at-home mothers.
"Our group really gained a lot of knowledge about Lyme Disease and ticks thanks to Bob," Motto said after Oley's March 2013 presentation.
At the Moms Club meeting, like at other events he attends, Oley featured the "Five Top TickSmart™ Actions" poster from the TickEncounter Resource Center (TERC) as a springboard for discussion.
"I did not realize the size of ticks, I didn't think they were around all year long, and I didn't understand how they attach to us," said Amie Cafiero, who explained that her three and a half year old daughter is, like most, "very active."
"We spend most of our days outside. I like how Bob showed us different, safe products to use every day to keep our family safe," Cafiero added.
In addition to public service speaking engagements and private consultations with homeowners, Oley serves as Public Health Advisor to the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), a national nonprofit organization which raises money for tick-borne disease research, education, awareness, and public advocacy. He is author of the TBDA web site's Tick Talk with Bob Oley. He also works closely with local Lyme Disease support groups including those in Montgomery and Lower Bucks Counties.
Despite his impressive education and broad experience, Oley credits the TickEncounter Resource Center for much of his success helping eastern Pennsylvania residents stay safe from ticks.
"I tell people the TERC web site is one of the best resources available when it comes to ticks, tickborne diseases, and prevention. I have the utmost respect for Dr. Mather and hold in the highest regard the work TERC is doing. If I didn't think so, I would not have become a TickEncounter Prevention Partner," he explained.
"I take great personal satisfaction and immense enjoyment from this work I am doing," Oley mused. "And if I can help prevent one child from getting a tickborne disease, it is well worth all my efforts," he said convincingly.