Babesiosis is a tick bourne illness that effects red blood cells. It is delivered by the black legged tick or deer tick ( Ixodes scapularis ) . This tick is of tawny or dark brown appearance with black legs. Very identifiable as compared to the lone star tick which has a white dot on its thorax. Important to note; In order for this transmission to take place, the tick has to have the parasite and it must stay attached and feed for 24 to 72 hours.
It is common during the warm months and is mainly seen in the upper midwest and Northeast. This tick is common in brush piles, tall weeds and dead leaves.
The tick commonly transmits during the nymph stage due to its tiny size. At the nymph stage, it is the size of a numeral on a penny and at this stage it has six legs. As an adult, it has eight legs. Due to its small size, it is very difficult to see.
The incubation period of Babesiosis is 1-4 weeks after tick bite or 6-9 weeks after a blood transfusion ( incidental transmission from blood transfusion. ). Physical exam reveals splenomegaly in some patients ( enlarged spleen ) fatigue, fever, and some patients show petechiae ( small red dots on skin ) Classic symptoms over several days are as follows: fever, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, nausea and emesis. Some may have liver involvement evidenced by yellowing of eyes and dark tea-colored urine. Addendum : About 25% of positive Babesiosis patients have concurrent Lyme disease.
Antibiotics remain the mainstay of treatment and success is good when caught early enough.
Prevention is mostly common sense however, we do not want fear to keep us indoors. We want to enjoy life and the outdoors and we can do that with some instrumental changes.