Once Called Nantucket Fever, This Nasty Tick-borne Illness Is on the Rise

June 10, 2024 | Source: NPR News | by Allison Aubrey

Micheline LeBlanc knew something was up in the summer of 2022. She felt achy and fatigued. “Headaches were a big problem. Night sweats were dramatic,” LeBlanc says.

When she developed throbbing pain in her legs and shortness of breath, her husband took her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

They sent her home with antibiotics. But a few days later her doctor called to tell her a blood test showed she actually had a different tick-borne illness – babesiosis.

The first case of babesiosis in the U.S. was identified on Nantucket Island in 1969. The tick-borne parasitic disease is endemic in New England, and as deer ticks expand their range it’s now found from Virginia to Maine as well as the upper Midwest, from Michigan to Minnesota. The CDC points to a significant increase in incidence over the last decade.