Archive for the ‘Babesia’ Category

Tick-Borne Infection Risk in Blood Transfusion

Tick-Borne Infection Risk in Blood Transfusion

North Central Integrated Pest Alert


They have the following for ticks and specific diseases:


FREE Tick Testing – Adds Bartonella Pathogen Assay

Disulfiram-breakthrough drug for Lyme & Other Tick-borne Diseases?

Disulfiram–breakthrough drug for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases?

Babesiosis Could Be More Common in Sweden Than Previously Thought

2019 Jun 28;116. pii: FL4D.

Babesiosis could be more common in Sweden than previously thought

[Article in Swedish]


Babesia is a malaria-like, intraerythrocytic parasite with more than 100 different species. It is a zoonosis and some of the species are transmitted to humans by ticks and also as a possible transfusion-transmitted infection. In Sweden the disease has been well known in veterinary medicine for a long time, but only a few but severe cases have been published in humans during the last decades. Common symptoms from human Babesia infections (babesiosis) are fever, chills and myalgia and they vary from subclinical to potentially fatal among those with risk factors such as immunosuppression and splenectomy. In the U.S. more than 2,000 cases of babesiosis are found yearly and it is one of the most frequent fatal infections following blood transfusion. A study from southern Sweden has recently revealed a seroprevalence of 16% of Babesia antibodies among Borrelia-infected persons. These results indicate that there is a need to broaden awareness of Babesia in Sweden.



This abstract underplays the prevalence of Babesia. Not sure why they state it is a possible transfusion-transmitted infection when the Red Cross recently came out with a test to screen Babesia for blood.  It’s an obvious problem:

Here’s an even earlier article going transfusion-transmission:  of those confirmed to be positive, 20% were PCR-positive, with 13% antibody-negative.

Here we have babies contracting it from blood:

Here we have people contracting Babesia from transfusions, even in non-endemic areas.   Excerpt:

Asymptomatic individuals with Babesia infection are able to donate blood in the United States because of the lack of specific blood donation testing. Blood products collected in Babesia-endemic areas are distributed nationally; thus, clinicians in nonendemic states may fail to include babesiosis in the differential diagnosis of a patient who had a recent transfusion history and a fever of unknown origin.”  

In the abstract, those with Lyme also had a seroprevalence of 16% of Babesia antibodies. In this study,  it was nearly 29%. To me this demonstrates those with Lyme are at risk for Babesia and other pathogens.

To date, little work has been done on concurrent infections, and has been underplayed for decades.

The most important, recent work demonstrating multiple pathogen involvement:  This shows Lyme patients are at risk for not only other tick borne illnesses but opportunistic infections as well.  This is what we experience and see in the real world of Lymeland.

I don’t think mainstream medicine has a clue how important concurrent infection is.  When left untreated, silent babesial infection may persist for months or even years. Although treatment with clindamycin and quinine reduces the duration of parasitemia, infection may still persist and recrudesce and side effects are common. Improved treatments are needed.

Dr. Krause published in the New England Journal of Medicine that when a patient has Lyme and Babesia, Lyme is found three-times more frequently in the blood, proving Babesia suppresses the immune system.   Dr. Horowitz warns that due to this immune suppression,patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus and are on immunosuppressant drugs, if they have Babesia, could get much worse. The strain, B. divergens, causes a higher mortality rate and more severe symptoms, and if left untreated, this strain can develop into shock-like symptoms with pulmonary edema and renal failure.

More on Babesia:  Dr. Horowitz, a nationally recognized LLMD, states Babesia is one of the most tenacious coinfections he sees in his patients and that treatment often takes 9 months to a year, particularly with those also infected with Lyme disease (borrelia).  Treatment options for you to discuss with your practitioner in this link.  






Characteristics of Transfusion-Transmitted Babesia Microti, American Red Cross 2010-2017

2019 Jun 27. doi: 10.1111/trf.15425. [Epub ahead of print]

Characteristics of transfusion-transmitted Babesia microti, American Red Cross 2010-2017.



Babesia microti, a red blood cell (RBC) parasite transmitted naturally to vertebrate hosts by ixodid ticks, is endemic to the northeastern and upper midwestern United States, with the geographic range of infected ticks expanding. B. microti is a blood safety issue with >200 transfusion-transmissions reported.


The American Red Cross’s Hemovigilance program investigated hospital-reported transfusion-transmitted babesiosis (TTB) cases. Follow-up samples from involved donors were tested for B. microti antibodies and parasite DNA, the latter by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Test-positive donors were permanently deferred from future donations.


B. microti-positive donors were implicated in 77 of 143 suspect TTB cases investigated from 2010 through 2017. In four cases, two positive donors were identified for a total of 81 positive donors. In three cases, a RBC unit was split and components transfused multiple times to the same pediatric recipient. RBCs were the transmitting product in all cases. At follow-up, all involved donors were antibody positive; 25 donors were also PCR positive. Positive donations were collected throughout the year, peaking in the summer. Most donors (78) were resident of, or traveled to (2), an endemic state. One donor resided in a non-endemic state without relevant travel history. One fatality listed babesia as a contributing factor. No implicated donation was screened by an investigational protocol.


Babesiosis remains a blood safety issue. Prior to FDA-licensed screening test availability and final FDA Guidance, blood collectors in endemic states investigationally tested none, a portion, or all collections. Future expanded testing will reduce the frequency of TTB cases.



This clearly shows there were more than 200 Babesia transfusion-transmissions reported. It also shows you don’t have to reside in an endemic area or travel to an endemic area to get it. The article also clearly points out that the geographic range of ticks is expanding, which means the pathogens they carry will as well.

More on Babesia:

Babesia, as well as Lyme is under reported. Research hardly exists on those with both. We desperately need to know what concurrent infection is doing to patients. It only makes logical sense that their cases are more severe and of greater duration, yet mainstream research and medicine doesn’t blink at this issue:

Going back to 1998, it was known that when a patient has Lyme and Babesia, Lyme is found three-times more frequently in the blood, causing greater symptoms, disease severity, and duration of illness:

What happens when a patient has Lyme, Babesia, and Bartonella and maybe a few viruses thrown in for good measure?  Nobody’s studied this, yet it is common scenario in Lyme-land:

Ask the Vet: Lyme Not Only Issue With Ticks

Ask the Vet: Lyme not only issue with ticks

By now my overall distaste for ticks is well known and their ability to spread diseases to people and pets is disturbingly diverse.

Lyme disease deservedly gets the bulk of the attention, but some less well known diseases can infect your dog via a tick bite and the warm, wet spring is creating a perfect environment for ticks to reproduce and spread disease.

Anaplasmosis is a bacterial disease similar to Lyme disease and is transmitted by the same species of tick, so often dogs may be infected with Anaplasma as well as the Borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

The symptoms are generally less severe than Lyme disease and are associated with a low number of blood platelets that assist in blood clotting, so bleeding disorders may be seen.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is one of the more widespread tick-borne diseases in the United States, often contradicting its limited geographic name. It is spread by multiple species of ticks, which explains its extended range. RMSF is also unique in that is can be transmitted very quickly after the tick bites your dog.

Joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes and inflammation of blood vessels, called vasculitis, are typical symptoms associated with RMSF.

Babesiosis has seen a resurgence in recent years and is somewhat unique among disease that are tick-borne in that it can be spread via a tick bite but also through contaminated blood. “Pit bull”-type breeds are susceptible to Babesia infections and with their well-deserved increasing popularity as pets (including my own), the incidence of this infection is increasing. The infection causes bursting of red blood cells, called hemolysis. When the severity of the hemolysis increases, the body can’t keep up and the skin and gums may take on a yellow appearance, or jaundice.

As an infected dog becomes more anemic from the loss of red blood cells, they maybe lethargic or have trouble breathing. If severe, a blood transfusion may be needed. The fact that this can be transmitted through infected blood products is why dogs are now screened for this disease if they participate in a blood donor program.

While this is only a partial list of the less common tick-borne infection that are being spread, it reminds us that those awful, little eight-legged creatures are out there and protection and prevention are still the best option for you and your dog.

Questions for Dr. Gary Thompson can be emailed to or mailed to The Blade, Attn. Ask the Vet, 541 N. Superior St. Toledo, OH., 43660. Dr. Thompson regrets that he cannot answer individual letters.


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