By Ken Buben, President, FancyScrubs.com
Babesiosis is Spreading
Since my wife had Lyme disease several times I wanted to write about it and warn others of the dangers of ticks and mice. Lyme disease itself can be debilitating and awful on its own but now there is another danger with ticks – Babesiosis.
Babosiosis 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 it is less common than Lyme disease, babesiosis can be fatal, especially for those with compromised immune systems.
According to an article in today’s New York Times, 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. Experts are fearing that many people may carry the infection and not have symptoms and then carry it into the blood stream when they donate blood.
Babesiosis already is the most frequently reported infection transmitted through transfusion in the United States, responsible for at least 12 deaths. In New York City, six transfusion-associated cases of babesiosis were reported in 2009. Infection by this route can be serious: One study found approximately 30 percent of people who were infected by a transfusion died.
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.
See the latest warning for Rhode Island residents as this is spreading fast and is life threatening.
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.
Many people who are infected with the parasite have no symptoms at all, while others experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms that may last for a few days or as long as six months. “But some people get so sick that they wind up hospitalized, put into an intensive care unit, or even dying,” said Dr. Gary Wormser, chief of infectious diseases at Westchester Medical Center in New York.
Not only do ticks carry this parasite but mice do too. Many people only think of ticks as carriers but mice play a large role as well. People who live in wooded areas must have pest control and clear away brush and tall grass away from their home to prevent mice from entering. Seal all cracks and holes to prevent them from squeezing in when the temps drop or if they are looking for water during drought conditions.
If you have any symptoms get checked out by your doctor asap as time is of the essence with this disease. If your first tests come out negative and you still have symptoms see a Lyme literate doctor.
If you are a healthcare worker please check out our fluid repelling scrubs that protect you from blood at fancyscrubs.com/vestex.