Disease Information for Babesiosis: Definition

  • A group of tick-borne diseases of mammals including zoonoses in humans. They are caused by protozoans of the genus BABESIA, which parasitize erythrocytes, producing hemolysis. In the U.S., the organism"s natural host is mice and transmission is by the deer tick IXODES scapularis.

    Babesiosis What is babesiosis? Babesiosis (say: "bab-e-see-oh-sis") is a rare illness that is caused by a parasite that lives in some ticks; Deer ticks carry the parasite that causes this illness; Babesiosis infections have been reported in many parts of the United States; The areas in which babesiosis has been reported most often are Connecticut and on the islands off of Massachusetts and New York; What are the symptoms of babesiosis? Symptoms include fever (as high as 104°F), chills, sweating, weakness, tiredness, poor appetite and headache; Some people with the illness may not have symptoms; However, sometimes the illness quickly becomes serious, and it can even cause death; Babesiosis can affect people of all ages, but most people who get it are in their 40s or 50s; How can my doctor tell if I have babesiosis? Your doctor will need to do blood tests to see if you have this illness; Your doctor might also do blood tests to look for other infections that ticks can carry; How is babesiosis treated? Two antibiotics are usually used to treat babesiosis; If you develop shortness of breath or any other symptoms after you start taking the antibiotics, tell your doctor right away; Some people who have this illness need to go to a hospital to be treated; How can I prevent babesiosis? During the months of May through September, stay away from places where ticks are common; This is especially important if you"ve had your spleen removed, if you have had an organ transplant, or if you have HIV infection, AIDS or other problems with your immune system; You may want to use insect repellent when you are outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy places; One of the best tick repellents is called DEET; Products with 10% to 35% DEET will provide good protection under most conditions.Early removal of ticks is important; A tick must stay attached to your body for at least 24 hours before it can pass on the parasite that causes babesiosis; If you spend a lot of time outdoors in areas where ticks live, you should check yourself for ticks every day; Check your pets also, because they may carry ticks into your home; Whenever you find a tick on yourself or on someone else, save it so that you can show it to the doctor if symptoms of babesiosis develop.

    -----------[AAFP/familydoctor website 2007]--------------------