Many Lyme disease patients have one or more tick borne co-infections. In addition to the Lyme spirochete, patients can also be infected with tick-borne mycoplasma, rickettsia and/or a protozoa. One study indicates over 1/2 of their Babesiosis patients also had Lyme disease.
The parasite that causes Babesiosis destroys red blood cells and causes a malaria-like illness which can be fatal. Symptoms include fever, chills, sweats, muscle pains, breathing difficulties, headaches and malaise.
Patients may also experience episodes of depression, dizziness, vomiting, bleeding tendencies, acute respiratory distress syndrome, dark colored urine, anemia, swollen spleen, congestive heart failure, renal failure, bruising, jaundice, pulmonary edema, myocardial infarction, anorexia, evidence of shock and encephalopathy. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. Babesiosis symptoms can be similar to malaria symptoms.
Treatment: A combination of Atovaquone (Mepron) and Zithromax or Baixin is currently being used to treat Babesiosis. This combination is reported to have less potential side effects than quinine and clindamyacin. Re-treatment or long term treatment is often needed in chronic and long-standing cases.
Babesia Infecting Blood Cells
There are more than 100 known species of Babesia that can infect various small mammals, primates, rats and gerbils. The first Babesia species was discovered in 1888 by Victor Babes, a Romanian pathologist in whose honor the organisms were subsequently named. Researchers continue to describe new babesial species affecting humans, such as MO1, which was associated with the first reported case of babesiosis acquired in the state of Missouri. WA1, first described in Washington state, is being detected in a growing number of Maryland patients. The standard serology will not detect these species. If Babesiosis is suspected, treatment should begin immediately to prevent the worsening of symptoms.
After an infectious tick bite (organisms found in salivary glands of ticks), Babesia parasites invade red blood cells. Transfusion-associated babesiosis has also been described and has caused severe illness and death in a growing number of patients. After a transfusion with infected blood, the incubation period can be up to nine weeks. The risk factors for the recipient have included donors who have had exposure in endemic areas. Additionally, transplacental and perinatal transmission have both been reported in the literature.
The typical incubation period of babesiosis varies from 5 to 33 days; however, most patients do not recall tick exposure. The correlation between the level of the serology titer and the severity of symptoms is poor and tests may be false-negative in many cases.
Recommended Books- Dr. James Schaller has graciously offered to share some of his excellent Babesia books online **for free** for educational purposes.