Babesia is a parasite similar to malaria, infecting red blood cells and is the most common coinfection of Lyme disease. It infects the body in a similar way to malaria by growing and reproducing within red blood cells. Infection of babesia is referred to as babesiosis and is the most common Lyme co-infection as well as the most common piroplasm infection among humans. Babesia maintains over 100 species, with several affecting humans.
Like Lyme, babesia may be transferred via tick. However, it can also be transmitted from mother to unborn child through the transfusion of contaminated blood. This quality makes babesia an exceptionally sinister threat. Symptoms of babesiosis share several similarities with Lyme. However, it may be distinguished with an initially high fever and chills. Similarly to Lyme, Babesia can present itself in nonspecific symptoms. Early symptoms of Babesia may present themselves one to six weeks after a tick bite. Progression of the infection brings with it symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including fatigue, headache, sweating, muscle aches, chest and hip pain, and shortness of breath, or air hunger. Fortunately, symptoms of babesiosis tend to be mild and non-life-threatening. However, the mildness of the symptoms also means that the condition is often overlooked until symptoms become more severe.
Unfortunately, when babesia goes untreated, it can lead to more severe complications, especially for immunocompromised individuals.
If you are concerned about Babesia or any symptoms similar to those listed here, please contact our office to schedule your appointment today.