What is Babesiosis?

Babesiosis is a rare, tick-borne, infectious disease caused by microscopic parasites belonging to the genus Babesia that infect the red blood cells. It is found primarily in the warmer climates of the eastern United States and is primarily seen in the spring and summer months. Along with Lyme disease, Babesiosis is the most common tick-borne infection in the United States.

Symptoms of Babesiosis

The symptoms of Babesiosis range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice

Diagnosis and Treatment of Babesiosis

The diagnosis of Babesiosis is made through a combination of physical examination, medical history, laboratory tests and imaging studies. The treatment of the condition depends on the severity of symptoms and overall health of the patient. The most commonly used medications to treat Babesiosis are atovaquone and azithromycin. Other treatments for Babesiosis include anti-malarial drugs such as clindamycin or quinine, as well as the blood transfusions.

Prevention of Babesiosis

One of the most effective ways to prevent Babesiosis is to avoid being bitten by infected ticks. When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, use insect repellent, avoid wooded and grassy areas, and check yourself for ticks after outdoor activities. If a tick is found, it should be removed promptly and carefully. Additionally, routine screening tests can detect the presence of Babesial infection before symptoms begin. Finally, vaccinations for tick-borne diseases are available and should be discussed with your doctor.