With tick-borne diseases a growing matter of public health concern on the Vineyard, education and prevention are more important than ever, a leading expert said.

The recent death of a seasonal resident with an apparent case of tularemia has sparked renewed discussion about tick-borne illnesses.


With six confirmed cases of tularemia and reports of Lyme disease coming in, the Vineyard has begun another season of documenting tick-borne illnesses.

Although cases are still being confirmed, official numbers will not be released until early next year. But initial reports from state public health officials and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital indicate no slowdown in the high rates of tick-borne illnesses on Island.


Six cases of tularemia this spring and summer on Martha's Vineyard have been confirmed by the state Department of Public Health.

All six individuals who contracted the disease, who ranged in age from 33 to 67, either were landscaping or were outside near where landscaping was occurring. They contracted the potentially fatal disease by breathing in the Francisella tularemia bacterium between May 13 and July 5, health officials said.

All have been successfully treated with antibiotics for the disease, and are recovering.


The Vineyard's first tularemia case of the year, a 50-year-old male landscaper, may have contracted the potentially fatal disease after handling a dead rabbit he found while working in Edgartown, state public health officials said this week.
Fueled by a federal grant aimed at countering a bioterrorist attack, scientists at a Providence, R.I., pharmaceutical company are banking on the collection of blood samples from nearly two dozen Vineyarders to help them develop a new vaccine against tularemia, the rare disease with an unexplained presence on Martha's Vineyard.