Babesia is caused by a protozoan, closely related to the protozoan that causes malaria.
At onset of Lyme (8 days or more after tick bite):
__ High fever and chills in some patients
Facts about Babesia:
- Babesia & malaria are both caused by protozoans that reproduce inside red blood cells and destroy them.
- A very common co-infection with Lyme.
- Many members of our Lyme Association have babesia.
- Nationally reportable as of January, 2011.
- Found in cattle in Miami County, Kansas forty years ago.
- Not known to affect humans in this area of the country until recently.
Babesia Blood Smear
A blood smear can show protozoans in red blood cells. However, a person may be ill with only a few red blood cells infected, and there may be none visible in the sample being viewed.
A negative test does not rule out babesia.
Babesia and Lyme
- A combination of babesia and Lyme makes both diseases much worse.
- Both diseases suppress the immune system and make it more difficult to recover.
- Babesia enables the Lyme bacteria to survive Lyme treatment.
- Lyme disease spirochetes cycle and cause a Herx every 4 to 6 weeks.
- Babesia cycles every 4 to 6 days.
Babesia Blood Trasnfusion Risks
- Many people infected are healthy and don’t know they carry babesia.
- Babesia is unknowingly being transmitted through blood transfusions.
- At least 9 people in the U.S. have died after receiving babesia-infected blood.
- There are no tests to screen donated blood for babesia.
- CDC recommends babesia patients not donate blood.
- Wise for people who get a lot of tick bites to refrain from donating blood.
- Lyme disease can also survive in stored blood, as can agents of some other tick-borne diseases.