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Lyme Disease Co-Infections: Babesia or Babesiosis - The Blood Parasite

Updated on July 4, 2011

Picture from the American Society of Microbiology

Babseia Microti
Babseia Microti

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.

There are 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
  • Chills
  • Drenching Sweats
  • Marked fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • Headache
  • 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.

  • Clindamycin (Cleocin)

    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.

If you are looking for in depth information on Babesia, may I recommend...


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    • deadpoets79 profile image

      DeAnne 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Awesome info! Thanks for spreading Tick-Borne Disease awareness!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Very informative information on lyme disease. Thumbs up!

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrea 7 years ago from Italy

      Useful informations about this disease, good to know, rated up and useful. Thanks for your kind comment and have a great day. :)