Causes Of Babesiosis Disease: Signs, Symptoms And Treatment

Babesiosis is disease in humans caused by a parasite called babesia mictroti, although other spices B. duncani, B. divergens and B. venatorum can also cause this infection. It is a tick borne illness. The spread of babesia mictroti occurs through bite of an infected tick, namely ‘Ixodes’ tick. Clinical features of babesiosis resemble those of malaria symptoms. The disease is most prevalent in coastal areas of northeastern United States and certain parts of Europe. The parasite infects and starts destroying the red blood cells.

The patient infested with babesiosis may be asymptomatic or may have moderate to severe fulminant symptoms.

Most healthy individuals may suffer from mild symptoms. Severe form of disease occurs in aged and people having compromised immunity such as those suffering from HIV, Cancer or have undergone splenectomy.

Diagnosis of the disease is made by blood examination. Babesiosis is a curable disease. Treatment consists of antimicrobial medications. In severe cases blood transfusion may be necessary.

What Are The Causes Of Babesiosis Disease?

Babesiosis is a disease caused by infection of parasite. There are several species of babesia parasite, but mostly babesia mictroti causes disease in humans. The disease is spread by bite of tick infected with babesia mictroti.

Usually the specific tick Ixodes scapularis which is also called blacklegged tick or deer tick is responsible for the spread of babesia parasite in humans. The tick contracts infection from biting rodents carrying babesia.

The disease is most common in Northeastern seaboard of United States and in certain parts of Europe, although sporadic cases have been noted in different parts of world. The ticks that carry the parasite are usually found in wooded area, grass, and bush during spring and summer when the climate is warm. The other mode of transmission of parasite includes contaminated blood transfusion and infected mother transmitting the parasite to the fetus during pregnancy or delivery.

Signs And Symptoms Of Babesia

The severity of babesiosis may vary from asymptomatic infection to mild or serious fulminant disease that may sometimes be life threatening. After the parasite is transmitted into human being from the tick bite, the symptoms develop between 1 to 9 weeks.

Mild symptoms are similar to flu like illness which includes:

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Mild fever
  • Chill
  • Increased perspiration
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • No desire to eat food
  • Mild pain in abdomen
  • Sore throat
  • Red eyes

Severe form of symptoms occurs in person suffering from HIV, cancer, taking immunosuppressive medicines, has undergone spleen removal surgery, old persons.

The symptoms may be similar to those of malaria:

  • High grade fever with chills.
  • Severe anemia due to destruction of red blood cells.
  • Enlarged liver
  • Jaundice
  • Low white blood cell count.
  • Acute respiratory failure.
  • Liver or kidney failure.
  • Dark colored urine due to hemolytic anemia.

Treatment For Babeosis

Treatment of babesiosis depends on the severity of symptoms. In asymptomatic patients even though the blood smear is positive for babesiosis, treatment is not usually necessary. Patient just needs monitoring of the blood test regularly, especially if he is immunocompromised.

Patient with mild to moderate symptoms are treated with antibacterial medications. The course must last for 7 to 10 days. In severe cases of babesiosis, where there is high load of parasite in the blood, patient may need antibacterial treatment. In addition he may also need blood transfusion to decrease the load of parasite and to remove the toxic byproducts of the infection.