Babesiosis is an infection affecting the red blood cells that is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite Babesia. This infection can trigger headaches, fever, fatigue and body aches.
Babesia are categorized as protozoans that thrive within red blood cells and eventually destroying them. The condition is spread by the same type of deer ticks that spreads Lyme disease. The infection is prevalent among animals but uncommon among humans.
Indications of babesiosis
In some individuals, especially healthy individuals younger than 40, they do not have any evident symptoms. In some cases, there is headache, fever, fatigue and muscle or joint pain. The skin and the white part of the eyes might turn yellowish (jaundice). In addition, anemia can develop due to the breakdown of the red blood cells while the liver and the spleen become enlarged.
The possibility for a severe case and death is high among those whose spleen has been removed or those who are using medications or conditions that weakens the immune system especially AIDS. In such cases, the symptoms of babesiosis are strikingly similar to malaria such as high fever, dark urine, anemia, jaundice and kidney failure.
How is it diagnosed
When diagnosing the condition, the doctor will take a blood sample that is analyzed under a microscope in the laboratory.
In most cases, there is no specific treatment for mild cases among healthy individuals who have a fully functional spleen since the infection later on subsides. Among those who have symptoms, they are treated using atovaquone along with azithromycin which has only a few side effects. In some cases, quinine with clindamycin is also effective.
Among areas where deer ticks are prevalent, the risk for acquiring babesiosis is reduced by observing precautionary measures against tick exposure.