Babesiosis – Not As Rare A Lyme Co-Infection As Once Thought To Be

Babesiosis – a tick-borne infection with the protozoan parasite, Babesia – produces a malaria-like illness that often goes undiagnosed, even in those who have been diagnosed properly with Lyme disease. There are over 100 Babesia species, and yet, only a few are known to cause disease in humans: Babesia microti, Babesia divergens, and Babesia bovis. What’s alarming is that they are finding that babesiosis is much more prevalent a co-infection than was once believed. As with Lyme disease, babesiosis can present in typical and atypical ways in different people, and so the classic symptoms may not even be present in many individuals, but they could still be infected with the parasite. Babesia like to reside in a host’s red blood cells, and the classic symptoms of babesiosis are: air hunger, anemia, chills, sweats, a feeling of imbalance (vertigo), headaches, and fevers. Again, some people have no symptoms, few symptoms, or many symptoms, and these symptoms can present quite some time after they have been infected.

Babesiosis is often treated with the antibiotics, Mepron + Zithromax. Some add the herb Artemisinin to the mix as it is used to treat Malaria and there has been much success with it – some even use Artemisinin on its own and have had success treating their Babesiosis. The most common dose I have heard for taking Artemisinin is 100mg 3 x day which is done 3 weeks on, one week off. I have heard that Artemisinin has the potential to cause low iron, and so you would want to have your iron levels checked while on it. The brands that seem to be most trusted as a source for this herb are Nutricology and Allergy Research Group. I ordered a small bottle of the Allergy Research Group Artemisinin in case I decide to do a therapeutic trial of it.

Here is an interesting article recently published in the New York Times, on the increasing spread of Babesia.

From: The New York Times

Once Rare, Infection by Tick Bites Spreads
Published: June 20, 2011

A potentially devastating infection caused by tick bites has gained a foothold in the Lower Hudson Valley and in coastal areas of the Northeast, government researchers have found.

The condition, called babesiosis, is a malaria-like illness that results from infection with Babesia microti, a parasite that lives in red blood cells and is carried by deer ticks. Though far less common than Lyme disease, babesiosis can be fatal, particularly in people with compromised immune systems.

Because there is no widely used screening test for babesiosis, its spread poses a particular threat to the blood supply, scientists said. “We are very worried about it and are doing everything in our power to address this,” said Sanjai Kumar, chief of the laboratory of emerging pathogens at the Food and Drug Administration.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were six cases of babesiosis in the Lower Hudson Valley in 2001 and 119 cases in 2008, a 20-fold increase. In areas where Lyme disease is endemic, like coastal Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island, babesiosis also is becoming very common, said Dr. Peter Krause, senior research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health.

In one study of residents of Block Island, R.I., Dr. Krause found babesiosis to be just 25 percent less common than Lyme disease. Babesiosis also is spreading slowly into other regions where it did not exist before, like the Upper Midwest, said Dr. Krause.

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