On Martha's Vineyard, concern about rare disease

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On Martha's Vineyard, concern about rare disease September 1, 2000 Web posted at: 5:19 PM EDT (2119 GMT)

WEST TISBURY, Massachusetts (AP) -- Health officials are investigating a cluster of cases of the rare bacterial disease tularemia on Martha's Vineyard, the island off Massachusetts known as a vacation haven for President Bill Clinton and other celebrities.

At least 10 residents have been infected with the disease and one of them recently died. Normally, the state only sees one or two cases a year.

There are only about 100 cases per year nationwide, usually less than 2 percent of which are fatal, said Dr. May Chu of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating the Massachusetts cases. The disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

Tularemia is a bacterial disease usually contracted by a dog tick bite or by touching or eating an infected animal. Rabbits and rodents are the animals most likely to be infected.

The disease, known as "rabbit fever," also can be transmitted by contact with water or soil that has been contaminated by an infected animal or by inhalation of contaminated particles. State health officials have warned people who work in outdoor occupations that they may be at increased risk.

David Kurth, 43, of the town of Chilmark, died of the disease on Saturday.

The disease typically has a sudden onset, usually with a high fever, chills, headache and fatigue.

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), September 01, 2000


Isn't Rabbit Fever an old, old disease?

-- LillyLP (lillyLP@aol.com), September 01, 2000.

I believe rabbit fever was a more or less common disease in the cowboy days of the 19th century West of the U.S. An ages-old disease, indeed.

-- Wellesley (wellesley@freeport.net), September 01, 2000.

This desease occurred in the "old west". That's interesting.

I heard about a case among hunters in Pennsylvania a few years ago.

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), September 02, 2000.

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