Babesiosis may occur like Lyme disease

Babesiosis is a disease caused by infection of the red blood cells by a microscopic parasite carried by nymph-stage ticks, which are early-stage ticks about the size of a poppy seed. Nymphs generally appear in spring and summer in the northeastern United States and upper Midwest.

There have also been some instances of the disease being transmitted via blood transfusion as well as from an infected mother to her newborn child.

Babesiosis can be particularly dangerous for the elderly as well as people who have compromised immune systems or other serious health problems. People without a spleen or a working spleen are also more vulnerable because the spleen can help fight infection.

Symptoms of babesiosis

Sometimes people don’t realize they have babesiosis because they may not experience any symptoms at all. For those who do experience symptoms, it may take a week, a month or longer for symptoms to develop, which makes it more difficult to make a connection between a possible tick bite and the symptoms being experienced.

Some signs of babesiosis may include:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

The only way to diagnose babesiosis is to have a sample of your blood examined under a microscope. Your doctor may also want to have your blood work done to look for other possible causes of your symptoms. People with babesiosis are often co-infected with other conditions such as Lyme disease.

Who gets babesiosis and how to prevent it

Anyone who spends time in woods, fields and grass in tick-infested areas is vulnerable to tick bites. However, you can help prevent babesiosis with a few simple behaviors such as avoiding walking in tall grassy areas where ticks like to hang out and applying DEET-based repellant to your skin and clothes.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.