Of Ticks and Islands Explains Early Research into Lyme Disease

September 27, 2017

Contact: Caroline Cornish
207-662-4146 / ccornish@mmc.org

Memoir of MMCRI co-founder Peter Rand, M.D., is part scientific detective story, part love letter to Maine Island Life

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI) and the Lyme and Vector-borne Disease Laboratory (VDL) are excited to announce the publication of a memoir by Peter Rand, M.D., Of Ticks and Islands.

In 1987, Dr. Rand was a Maine Medical Center doctor and an MMCRI co-founder with a penchant for research and a love for the Maine coast. These passions led him to tackle the puzzle of Lyme disease, which had been first described only a decade earlier in Connecticut. As more and more people in New England were contracting Lyme, understanding the deer tick as a vector for disease became very important. As his first laboratory, Rand chose Monhegan Island.

Monhegan is famous for massive headlands and an old-growth spruce forest, and is a destination for bird enthusiasts and generations of artists. It is also the year-round home of fishermen who maintain a way of life that has been the essence of the island for centuries. But the island was also perfect for a project to understand the life cycle of deer ticks and learn how to control them. Isolated 12 miles from the mainland, Monhegan had an overabundant population of deer, introduced in 1954, yet none of the mice that scientists thought were essential to the tick life cycle. That raised the question in Dr. Rand’s mind: How do deer ticks get to an island, and how do they survive without a crucial host?

Of Ticks and Islands is Dr. Rand’s charming account of doing science on Monhegan and other Maine islands. One part scientific detective story, one part love letter to Maine island life, Dr. Rand’s brief book describes a decade of tick-related work that ultimately led to deeper understanding of deer ticks in Maine and the eventual elimination of Lyme disease on Monhegan following the complete removal of deer. 

“When you’re an octogenarian, you tend to look back a lot,” Dr. Rand said. “I saw an opportunity to let the public have a peek at the real world of field research, and, in the process, open their eyes to the complex ecology of our country’s primary vector-borne disease threat.”

Of Ticks and Islands is currently available as an e-book via Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X5R24C. It will soon be available from Amazon as a paperback as well. Proceeds from sales will benefit the VDL.

About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as a Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News and World Report for 2017-2018, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing nearly 7,500 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is a member of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in northern New England. For more information, visit www.mmc.org.

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