In symptomatic people, babesiosis usually is diagnosed by examining blood specimens under a microscope and seeing Babesia parasites inside red blood cells.
If babesiosis is being considered, examination of blood smears should be specifically requested. Multiple smears may need to be examined to detect low levels of parasites.
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish Babesia from malaria parasites by blood-smear examination. Also, some Babesia species (such as B. microti and B. duncani) look identical: they cannot be distinguished from each other by microscopy. To be sure the diagnosis/species is correct, consider having a reference laboratory confirm the diagnosis—by blood-smear examination and, if indicated, by other means (for example, by serologic and molecular methods).
MMWR (July 13, 2012) -- Babesiosis Surveillance — 18 States, 2011
Article (Ann Intern Med -- September 5, 2011): Transfusion-Associated Babesiosis in the United States: A Description of Cases
Video (Ann Intern Med -- October 17, 2011): Author Insight: Barbara L. Herwaldt, MD, MPH, offers additional insight into her original research article.
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