Babesiosis is brought on by tiny parasites that contaminate red blood cells and are spread out by specific ticks. In the United States, tickborne transmission is most typical in specific areas and seasons: it primarily happens in parts of the Northeast and upper Midwest and typically peaks during the warm months.
Although lots of people who are infected with Babesia do not have symptoms, for those who do effective treatment is available. Babesiosis is avoidable, if basic steps are taken to reduce direct exposure to ticks. Babesia microti is transmitted by the bite of infected Ixodes scapularis ticks – generally, by the nymph stage of the tick, which is about the size of a poppy seed. An Ixodes scapularis nymph is shown on the face of a penny.
Many people who are infected with Babesia microti feel fine and do not have any symptoms. Some people develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, anorexia nervosa, nausea, or fatigue. Because Babesia parasites infect red blood cells, babesiosis can cause hemolytic anemia (from the damage of red cell). Babesiosis can be a severe, life-threatening disease, particularly in people who:
- do not have a spleen;
- have a weak body immune system for other factors (such as cancer, lymphoma, or AIDS);
- have other severe health conditions (such as liver or kidney disease); or
- are senior.
How Do People Get Infected With Babesia?
The main way is through the bite of an infected tick:
- Babesia microti is spread by Ixodes scapularis ticks, which are commonly called blacklegged ticks or deer ticks. (Although white-tailed deer are the most crucial food source for the adult stage of the tick, deer are not infected with B. microti.)
- The parasite usually is spread by the young nymph stage of the tick. Nymphs are mostly found during warm months (spring and summer season) in areas with woods, brush, or lawn.
- Infected people might not remember a tick bite since I. scapularis nymphs are extremely small (about the size of a poppy seed).
Other possible methods of ending up being infected with Babesia consist of:
- receipt of a contaminated blood transfusion (no tests have been certified yet for donor screening); or
- transmission from an infected mom to her baby during pregnancy or delivery.
Babesia is a parasite and won’t react to antibiotics alone. Treatment requires antiparasitic drugs, such as those used for malaria. Atovaquone plus azithromycin is used to treat most cases and is usually taken for 7 to 10 days. Clindamycin plus quinine is used in more severe cases. With severe health problem, additional helpful measures might be taken. It’s possible for regressions to take place after treatment. If you have symptoms once again, they must be pulled back.
Avoiding contact with ticks is the best avoidance versus both babesiosis and Lyme disease. If you go into woody and meadow areas where deer exist, take preventive measures:
- Use clothing treated with permethrin.
- Spray repellent consisting of DEET on your shoes, socks, and exposed areas.
- Use long pants and long-sleeved t-shirts. Tuck your pant legs into your socks to keep ticks out.
- Inspect your whole body after spending time outdoors. Have a buddy take a look at your back and the backs of your legs, especially behind your knees.
- Shower and use a long-handled brush on areas you cannot see.
A tick should connect to your skin prior to it can send the disease. Connecting typically takes some hours after the tick has actually contacted your skin or clothes. Even if the tick attaches, there is a long time prior to it can send the parasite to you. You may have as long as 36 to 48 hours. This gives you time to search for the tick and remove it.
Last modified: February 12, 2018