Lyme Disease Co-Infections: Babesia or Babesiosis - The Blood Parasite
Picture from the American Society of Microbiology
A Babesia video by Tick Encounter at the University of Rhode Island
Babesiosis or Babesia is an infection caused by a malaria-like parasite, also
called a “piroplasm,” which is a protozoa that infects red blood cells. It is different then a bacteria, virus, fungus or yeast. It is more animal like. Babesia microti is
believed to be the most common piroplasm infecting humans, but
scientists have identified over twenty piroplasms carried by ticks. The white footed mouse in addition to white tailed deer are the primary transport hosts. Babesia may or may not always be passed with the Lyme Disease infection. There are many cases where Babesia is the only culprit at hand.
First reported in Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in the late 1960s, it has since spread throughout the United States, Asia and Europe. Dr. Mylonakis, from Massachusetts General Hospital, mentions that in the past decade, cases in humans have been reported with increasing frequency, especially in the northeastern United States.
different types of Babesiosis, for example, Babesia microti (in the United States) and
bovine strains (in Europe) cause most infections in humans. Most are
passed to humans by ticks, though some have been infected from
blood transfusions or through the placenta. Despite there being 13 known forms to date, standard testing only looks
for two of them. Luckily the American version is the least likely to be fatal.
- High fever
- Drenching Sweats
- Marked fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting
- Very low blood pressure
- Blood Clotting
- Hemolytic anemia (a breakdown of red blood cells)
- Liver problems
- Kidney failure
These are the most common and popular treatments currently. The medications you may be placed on may vary due to your medical history and the experience of the doctor treating you. Trust the advise of your LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) only and do not try to self medicate. For this reason, I did not include the dosing information.
Inhibits bacterial growth, possibly by blocking dissociation of peptidyl tRNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest. Administer in combination with quinine.
Erythromycin-type drug (azithromycin, clarithromycin, or telithromycin)
Inhibits bacterial growth, possibly by blocking dissociation of peptidyl tRNA from ribosomes, causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest. Treats mild-to-moderate microbial infections. Administer in combination with atovaquone.
Atovaquone (Mepron or Malarone)
May inhibit metabolic enzymes, which, in turn, inhibit growth of microorganisms. Administer in combination with azithromycin.
Quinine sulfate (Formula Q)
Inhibits growth of parasite by increasing the pH within intracellular organelles and possibly by intercalating into DNA of the parasites. Administer in combination with clindamycin.