Disease Name

Babesiosis

Vector Information

Babesiosis is a disease that is caused by the parasite Babesia microti and is most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. Most infections are asymptomatic and require no treatment. In cases that are symptomatic, treatment is provided depending on the severity of the symptoms. In severe cases, infections may be fatal. Babesiosis is preventable, if simple steps are taken to reduce exposure to ticks.

A tick must be attached for 36-48 hours for transmission to occur. Transmission may also occur through blood transfusions or through an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. The most common stage of tick to transmit this disease is the nymphal stage.  Most people who are infected feel fine and do not have any symptoms. Some people have mild symptoms that are flu-like such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue. In severe cases, Babesiosis can cause hemolytic anemia and complications can include low or unstable blood pressure, very low platelet counts, malfunction of vital organs, or death. Infections can be life threatening to those who do not have a spleen, are immune-compromised, have other serious health conditions, or are elderly. Symptom onset can occur within 1-2 weeks, but normally develop within a few weeks or months after the bite of an infected tick. Diagnosis is made by a healthcare provider who will use the presenting symptoms, history or possibility of a tick bite, and laboratory testing to diagnosis an infection. Treatment is provided on a case-by-case instance depending on the severity of the infection and individual risk factors. Individuals who lack symptoms are not typically treated.