Tick Bites – Babesiosis

Healthcare

Babesiosis is a rare infection of the red blood cells.  It can be life threatening if you suffer from some other health conditions, or you leave untreated.  You can get Babesiosis from tick bites.  Other ways of getting this infection is from contaminated blood transfusions, or a pregnant mother that is infected can pass it to her unborn child in the womb.  This is the only way that it can be passed from person to person.  On very rare occasions it can be passed from an organ transplant.  Anyone can get Babesiosis especially if you live in a heavily tick region.  

 

Risk Factors

Ticks can be at higher risk depending on the region or the season.  In warmer months ticks are more common.  Most common regions with ticks in the United States are the Northeast and Upper Midwest regions.  Such as Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, Minnesota, or Wisconsin.  Ticks usually have to be attached to a person for 36-48 hours to be able to transmit any kind of tick borne infections.  If you get bitten by a tick bite the infection enters your bloodstream.  Tick bites may be small and a person may not even recall getting one.  Ticks that can spread Babesiosis are in the nymph stage meaning that they are the size of about a poppy seed. 

 

Symptoms

Symptoms can take time to happen which can make it even harder to pinpoint if your symptoms were caused by a tick bite.  Symptoms can take between one to eight weeks to present.  Some people will have no symptoms.  Symptoms can include body aches, chills, fatigue, fever, headache, loss of appetite, or sweating.  If you have Babesiosis, you can develop hemolytic anemia.  You could have different symptoms if you also have hemolytic anemia.  They include colored urine, dizziness, heart murmur, rapid heart rate, swelling of spleen or liver, very pale skin, weakness, or jaundice.  Babesiosis can be extremely harmful to elderly people, people without a spleen, weakened immune system, or other serious health conditions like kidney or heart disease.  The disease usually runs its course in a few weeks or months.  Some patients though will take longer to fully recover. 

 

Diagnosis 

Babesiosis can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.  When looking at the blood test under a microscope the parasite can be seen.  Treatments depend on your symptoms.  No symptoms can mean no treatment.  If you are in the higher risk group treatment will be necessary.  Treatment usually is some sort of drug therapy of antibiotics to kill the parasite.  At the same time you have Babesiosis you can also have Lyme disease.  

 

READ MORE:  Insect Bite Treatments (summer insects like mosquitoes, ants and ticks)

 

Prevention

The good thing about Babesiosis is you can do your part to prevent it.  The main way to prevent Babesiosis is to take proper tick prevention.  Ways to do this is to avoid areas infested with ticks.  Check for ticks daily.  Minimize contact with leaf, brush, and overgrown grasses.  Minimize exposed skin.  Apply repellents to your body or clothes.  Remove ticks that become attached with pointed tweezers.  Make sure to not harm the body of the tick that can have infectious fluids inside.  Once removed make sure to disinfect the bite area and wash your hands.  Check outdoor pets for ticks as well before letting them inside.  

 

Conclusion

Reported cases of Babesiosis have occurred in North American, South American, Europe, Southern and Eastern Asia.  You can do your part to prevent getting Babesiosis by doing tick prevention.  You can do a drug therapy treatment of antibiotics to get rid of the infection in your blood.  Sometimes you may not have any symptoms.  Diagnosing is an easy blood test.  Sometimes knowing if you have been bitten by a tick can be hard to pinpoint due to how small the ticks are that carry the Babesiosis infection.  It can be extremely harmful to people with other health conditions.  Tick bite prevention is the best way to stay free from Babesiosis.   

 

Tick Prevention:

  • Avoid areas with ticks
  • Minimize contact with woods, leaf, brush and overgrown grass
  • Keep skin covered
  • Apply tick repellent when outdoors
  • Check your pets for ticks and remove before allowing them in the house



HealthStatus Team

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