Babesiosis is transmitted to mammals through tick bites.
It has recently received a lot of attention because it is
frequently associated with Lyme disease. Ticks can carry both
babesiosis and Lyme disease. Throughout history, cattle fever
epidemics have been attributed to babesiosis.
Babesiosis can affect other mammals, as well. According to
Auerbach, the first human diagnosis was made in 1957 in Yugoslavia.
Since 1970, there have been many reported cases in the northeastern
part of the country, specifically Nantucket Island, Massachusetts,
Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. There have also been
a few cases in Wisconsin and Minnesota. We do know that the
major vector is the white-footed mouse, which is also responsible
for Lyme disease. The tick feeds off of the mouse, ingesting
the parasite. These replicate within the tick, and then are
passed on to the mammal the tick bites.
Research has show that there are risk factors for contracting
a severe form of babesiosis, which include advanced age, the
absence of a spleen, and generalized immunodeficiency. The
affected individual may be asymptomatic for months and even
years before presenting with classic symptoms. Generally,
however, the incubation period is one to two weeks after being
bitten. Symptoms are varied and can include nausea, vomiting,
headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, dark urine and temperatures
around 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. One should always consider
a coexisting of Lyme disease, specifically if there is a rash
resembling erythma migrans. The most common symptoms are weakness,
fatigue and fever, as well as chills and nausea.
Antibiotics are very effective, including Clindamycin, Zithromax,
and Quinine being a good alternative.
Works Cited: Merck Manual, Wilderness
Medicine by Auerbach