Rare Tick-Borne Illness Is Life-Threatening for Rockport Man

If you aren’t sure whether or not awareness of ticks and tick-borne illnesses is truly important in Massachusetts, ask Rockport resident Alan MacMillan. He is likely to tell you that “important” isn’t a strong enough word. The Gloucester Times accounts his story that starts as a walk in the woods and ends with him still tired and recovering, but thankful he is alive.

In mid-March, Alan took a walk in the woods. Later that day he found a tick and removed it without any trouble. It wasn’t until much later, May 6th in fact, that he began to feel sick. As his temperature rose, he checked himself into the emergency room and after several tests, he was diagnosed with Babesiosis, a tick-borne illness.


Unlike most tick-borne illnesses which come from bacteria, Babesiosis is caused by a parasite. It is transmitted by the deer tick and found mostly in northeastern coastal areas. According to state health statistics there were at least 4 deaths in Massachusetts, due to this disease, in 2015. It attacks the iron in the blood and can reduce your blood cell count to dangerous levels. This was the case for MacMillan. He did not have enough red blood cells to carry blood to his vital organs, and his bone marrow was being destroyed. A simple bruise could have caused fatal internal bleeding. The parasite that causes Babesiosis is very similar to the pathogens that cause malaria, so it was only when he fought with the drug company and insurance to receive an antimalarial drug called Atovaquone, that he began to recover. It will take him 120 days to recover his red blood cell count. He is lucky he survived.  


Rockport tick control is a must, as it is for all of Massachusetts. This story details the events of a man’s struggle with one of the more rare illnesses that ticks can carry, but ticks also spread Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It’s important to protect yourself with the correct clothing and insect repellent when you travel through untreated wooded areas. Also, be reminded of the 6 C’s of tick control to limit the tick population on your property.

At Mosquito Squad of the North Shore, we cover Rockport and the entire North Shore area, with comprehensive plans to keep your yard safe from ticks. Our tick treatment and tick tube programs can eliminate 85-90% of the ticks in your yard. Don’t let Alan MacMillan’s story become your story. Call us today! 

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