babesiosis

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Babesiosis

 

Definition

Babesiosis is an infection of red blood cells caused by the single-celled parasite, Babesia microti, which is spread to humans by a tick bite.

Description

Babesiosis is a rare, tick-transmitted disease that is caused most often by the single-celled parasite Babesia microti. By 1995, fewer than 500 cases of babesiosis had been reported in the United States. The disease occurs primarily in New England and New York, especially on the coastal islands. However, cases have occurred in other parts of the United States. Because of tick activity, the risk for babesiosis is highest during June and July.
Ticks are small, blood-sucking arachnids. Although some ticks carry diseasecausing organisms, most do not. Babesia microti is spread to humans through the bite of the tick Ixodes scapularis (also called Ixodes dammini). Ixodes scapularis, called the "blacklegged deer tick," usually feeds on deer and mice. A tick picks up the parasites by feeding on an infected mouse and then passes them on by biting a new host, possibly a human. To pass on the parasites, the tick must be attached to the skin for 36-48 hours. Once in the bloodstream, Babesia microti enters a red blood cell, reproduces by cell division, and destroys the cell, causing anemia. Humans infected with Babesia microti produce antibodies that can be helpful in diagnosing the infection.

Causes and symptoms

Babesia microti live and divide within red blood cells, destroying the cells and causing anemia. The majority of people who are infected have no visible symptoms. In those who become ill, symptoms appear one to six weeks following the tick bite. Because the ticks are small, many patients have no recollection of a tick bite. The symptoms are flu-like and include tiredness, loss of appetite, fever, drenching sweats, and muscle pain. Nausea, vomiting, headache, shaking chills, blood in the urine, and depression can occur.
Persons who are over 40 years old, have had their spleen removed (splenectomized), and/or have a serious disease (cancer, AIDS, etc.) are at a greater risk for severe babesiosis. In severe cases of babesiosis, up to 85% of the blood cells can be infected. This causes a serious, possibly fatal, blood deficiency.

Diagnosis

Babesiosis can be diagnosed by examining a blood sample microscopically and detecting the presence of Babesia microti within the blood cells. The blood can also be checked for the presence of antibodies to the parasite.

Treatment

In serious cases, babesiosis is treated with a combination of clindamycin (Cleocin) and quinine. Clindamycin is given by injection and quinine is given orally three to four times a day for four to seven days. To reduce the number of parasites in the blood, severely ill patients have been treated with blood transfusions.

Prognosis

Otherwise healthy patients will recover completely. Babesiosis may last several months without treatment and is a severe, potentially fatal disease in splenectomized patients.

Prevention

The only prevention for babesiosis is to minimize exposure to ticks by staying on trails when walking through the woods, avoiding tall grasses, wearing long sleeves and tucking pant legs into socks, wearing insect repellent, and checking for ticks after an outing. Remove a tick as soon as possible by grasping the tick with tweezers and gently pulling. Splenectomized people should avoid northeastern coastal regions during the tick season.

Resources

Other

Mayo Clinic Online. March 5, 1998. http://www.mayohealth.org.

Key terms

Anemia — A below normal number of red blood cells in the bloodstream.
Parasite — An organism that lives upon or within another organism.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

babesiosis

 [bah-be″ze-o´sis]
a group of tickborne diseases due to infection with protozoa of the genus Babesia, usually seen in wild or domestic animals as a type of anemia; it may spread to humans as a zoonosis characterized by a malarialike fever with chills, sweats, myalgia, nausea and vomiting, hemolytic anemia, and splenomegaly.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

ba·be·si·o·sis

(bă-bē'zē-ō'sis),
An infectious disease caused by a species of Babesia, transmitted by ticks. Animal hosts include cattle, sheep, deer, and dogs. Subclinical human infection may be common but symptomatic disease occurs only sporadically and in limited geographic distribution. Immunodeficient and asplenic people are at higher risk of infection. Clinical features of the disease include fever, chills, and hemolysis with hemoglobinuria and jaundice. Severe disease may be complicated by cardiac and renal failure, respiratory distress syndrome, and CNS involvement. As in animals, human morbidity and mortality increase with age.
Synonym(s): piroplasmosis
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

babesiosis

(bə-bē′zē-ō′sĭs) also

babesiasis

(băb′ĭ-zī′ə-sĭs)
n.
1. Any of several tick-borne infections of domestic and wild animals that are caused by protozoans of the genus Babesia.
2. A human disease caused by infection of red blood cells by protozoans of the genus Babesia that are transmitted by deer ticks, characterized by fever, malaise, and hemolytic anemia. In the United States, it occurs chiefly in the Northeast and Midwest. In both senses also called piroplasmosis.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

babesiosis

A systemic infection caused by Babesia spp, in particular B microti; in Nantucket, Massachusetts, an endemic region, ±40% of I dammini have B microti sporozoites in their saliva.

Clinical findings
1–4 week incubation, fever, shaking chills, malaise myalgias, fatigue, haemoglobinuria.
 
Lab
B microti in peripheral RBCs; indirect fluorescence titres ≥ 1:1024.
 
Management Clindamycin, quinine
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.

babesiosis

Infectious disease A systemic infection caused by Babesia spp, in particular B microti; in Nantucket, an endemic region, ±40% of I dammini have B microti sporozoites in their saliva Clinical 1-4 wk incubation, fever, shaking chills, malaise myalgias, fatigue, hemoglobinuria Treatment Clindamycin, quinine. See Babesia microti.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

ba·be·si·o·sis

(bă-bē'zē-ō'sis)
An infectious disease caused by a species of Babesia, transmitted by ticks. Animal hosts include cattle, sheep, deer, and dogs. Subclinical human infection may be common but symptomatic disease occurs only sporadically and in limited geographic distribution. Immunodeficient and asplenic people are at higher risk of infection. Clinical features of the disease include fever, chills, and hemolysis with hemoglobinuria and jaundice. Severe disease may be complicated by cardiac and renal failure, respiratory distress syndrome, and CNS involvement. As in animals, human morbidity and mortality increase with age.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

babesiosis

A disease spread by hard-bodied (Ixodid) ticks. The organism responsible, Babesia bigemina , invades the red blood cells causing them to rupture. There is fever, muscle aches, spleen enlargement and anaemia and the condition is sometimes fatal, especially if the spleen has been removed. There is no specific treatment. Babesiosis was the first disease shown to be transmitted by an ARTHROPOD.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005

ba·be·si·o·sis

(bă-bē'zē-ō'sis)
An infectious disease caused by a species of Babesia, transmitted by ticks. Subclinical human infection may be common but symptomatic disease occurs only sporadically and in limited geographic distribution. Immunodeficient and asplenic people are at higher risk of infection.
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
Equine babesiasis causes horses to have a fever and to become listless and depressed.
[17] MOREL, P.C.; Reflections on the epizootiology of bovine babesiasis in Europe due to Babesia divergens.