Ticks Increasingly Spreading Babesia, A Malaria-like Parasite, To Humans

From: Blood bank officials on alert for parasite-spreading tick making its way to S. Florida By Stacey Singer, The Palm Beach Post July 9, 2011

“As if Lyme disease wasn’t worrisome enough, ticks are increasingly spreading a malaria-like parasite to humans, which infects red blood cells and has been fatal.

“The parasite, Babesia microti, is turning up mostly in the northeastern United States and the upper Midwest, spread by the same pesky deer tick, also known as the blacklegged tick, as Lyme disease.

“Blacklegged ticks are in Florida, including Palm Beach County, entomologists say. But is babesiosis also here? That’s unclear, because it’s not a disease that state health officials track, and research on tick-borne diseases has been minimal.

The tick that spreads babesiosis is so small, the size of a poppy seed, that people often don’t realize they’ve been bitten. Healthy people appear able to fend off the parasite, most without knowing they’ve been infected. But the parasite can linger in them for months or even years, and federal health officials are concerned that it’s turning up in the blood supply, sickening transfusion recipients…”

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