Babesiosis Information for Health Professionals
Babesia microti is a protozoan of the piroplasm family.
Babesiosis is a malaria-like illness caused by red blood cell parasites (Babesia spp.). It is carried by the same ticks that carry Lyme disease.
- The clinical spectrum ranges from mild and self-limited to serious.
- Severe infections are most common in patients who have had a splenectomy or are otherwise immunosuppressed.
- A gradual onset of illness may include: malaise, anorexia, and fatigue followed more acutely by fever, chills, myalgias, arthralgias, nausea and vomiting.
- Hypotension and renal failure have been reported.
- Cases of babesiosis acquired through blood transfusions have been documented. Include babesiosis in the rule-out for patients who develop a febrile illness with thrombocytopenia following blood transfusion. Suspected transfusion-associated babesiosis should be reported to MDH and the supplying blood center.
- Supportive laboratory findings include:
- hepatic dysfunction
- In acutely ill patients, careful examination of blood smears by experienced individuals usually reveals intraerythrocytic parasites.
- Other tests include polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA).
- Coinfections with Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease agent) or Anaplasma phagocytophilum (the agent of human anaplasmosis) can also occur, increasing illness severity.
- Babesiosis is treated with quinine plus clindamycin, or with atovaquone plus azithromycin; treatment should be undertaken with the assistance of an infectious disease specialist.
- IDSA Babesiosis Disease Guidelines
The Clinical Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention of Lyme Disease, Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis: Clinical Practice Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Attention: Non-MDH link
Minnesota Rules Governing Communicable Diseases require health care providers to report confirmed or suspected cases of Babesiosis to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) within 1 working day.
MDH staff also are available to provide clinical consultation regarding diagnosis and treatment of Babesiosis and other tick-borne diseases. Call 651-201-5414 for a clinical consultation.
- Babesiosis Resources for Health Professionals
CDC Babesiosis page for health professionals. Attention: Non-MDH link.