Babesiosis is a parasitic infection caused by tick-borne Babesia (or piroplasm) protozoa. Human cases are rare but their prevalence is increasing. The reported cases are mainly due to infection with B. divergens (a bovine parasite) or B. microti (a rodent parasite). Babesiosis caused by B. microti is most commonly reported in the USA and is often benign or asymptomatic. Symtomatic forms are characterized by fever, shivering, headaches and muscular pain in a patient with increased liver and spleen volume. In contrast, Babesiosis is much less common in Europe (only around 40 human cases have been reported since 1957) and is usually caused by B. divergens and principally involves splenectomy patients. The symptoms of this form of babesiosis are the same as those associated with B. microti, but are more severe and include jaundice that may progress towards renal insufficiency. If left untreated, the disease may be fatal. Both forms of babesiosis can be treated with clindamycin.
Last update: December 2006