Many people who are infected with Babesia microti feel fine and do not have any symptoms. Some people develop nonspecific flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue.
Because Babesia parasites infect and destroy red blood cells, babesiosis can cause a special type of anemia called hemolytic anemia. This type of anemia can lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and dark urine.
Babesiosis can be a severe, life-threatening disease, particularly in people who:
- do not have a spleen;
- have a weak immune system for other reasons (such as cancer, lymphoma, or AIDS);
- have other serious health conditions (such as liver or kidney disease); or
- are elderly.
Complications of babesiosis can include:
- a low and unstable blood pressure;
- severe hemolytic anemia (hemolysis);
- a very low platelet count (thrombocytopenia);
- disseminated intravascular coagulation (also known as “DIC” or consumptive coagulopathy), which can lead to blood clots and bleeding;
- malfunction of vital organs (such as the kidneys, lungs, and liver); or
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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