Skip to main
text size:

Tick Borne Disease

On our island, the best treatment is prevention



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are more than 300,000 new cases of tick-borne diseases in the U.S. every year, and Nantucket has one of the highest incidence rates in the country. At Nantucket Cottage Hospital, our physicians have extensive experience diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, Babesia, Anaplasmosis, and Borrelia Miyamotoi. Longtime NCH physician and surgeon Dr. Tim Lepore is recognized as one of foremost experts in the field of tick-borne disease research, and has published numerous articles with researchers from the Harvard Public School of Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, and the Yale School of Public Health.

On Nantucket, it is important to remember that it is possible to become infected with more than one tick-borne diseases, in what is known as “co-infection.” The diseases can appear together or sequentially. As Dr. Lepore says, protection and prevention are always cheaper and easier than treatment.

The Best Treatment is Prevention:

  • Avoid known tick habitats: brushy and moist areas
  • Tuck your pants inside your socks
  • Use repellant
  • Control your environment
  • Regularly check yourself for ticks, paying close attention to armpits, groin and back

About Lyme Disease:

  • Not an insignificant problem, but not fatal
  • Treatment is highly effective if disease is caught early
  • Delayed treatment is effective, but damage can occur
  • Long-term prognosis is excellent in treated cases
  • Associated skin rash (often a “bulls-eye”) expands and may occur at the site of a bite, but can also be found at the hair line, torso, or elsewhere
  • Blood tests at the time of the rash are likely not useful
  • Vibramycin and Amoxicillin are the drugs of choice for treatment. (Vibramycin is a potent sun sensitizer and can stain the teeth of children under the age of 10. It should be avoided in this age group)
  • Treatment is typically two to three weeks
  • Blood tests are recommended several weeks after treatment concludes
  • Swollen joints, facial palsy or heart block are all indicators of later stage Lyme disease, but all symptoms are highly treatable

About Babesia

  • Malaria-like illness characterized by high fever and chills
  • No rash
  • Lab tests will likely show organism in blood smear and abnormal blood count
  • Treatment of one week of Mepron and Zithromax has is very effective
  • Babesia has been fatal but usually in patients without a spleen or with a weakened immune system
  • Serologic blood tests may be negative early, but newer PCR tests promise to be positive even early in the disease

About Erlichosis

  • Transmitted by the nymphal deer tick
  • Characterized by high fever and chills, but organism not usually seen as compared to Babesia
  • No rash
  • Blood tests may be suspicious, but recent PCR testing may provide early confirmation of the disease
  • Treatment: Vibramycin for two weeks

Helpful Links & Resources

Meet our Team

Meet our Team


Learn how to protect yourself, family and pets from tick borne diseases.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the Nantucket Board of Health teamed up to produce this video on how to prevent tick-borne diseases.

Back to top