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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 β€œDIC” or consumptive coagulopathy), which can lead to blood clots and bleeding;
  • malfunction of vital organs (such as the kidneys, lungs, and liver); or
  • death.
  • Page last reviewed: February 5, 2014
  • Page last updated: February 5, 2014
  • Content source:
    • Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
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