Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a parasitic infection of red blood cells caused by the protozoa Babesia microti, similar to malaria, and carried by the white-footed mouse and transmitted by deer tick bites. It appears primarily in the northeastern United States, in coastal areas that are home to the white-footed mouse. Cases also have been identified in the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Approximately 60 transfusion-associated cases have been reported in the United States. While babe-siosis often is quite mild, some patients (including those without a spleen, the elderly, or the immunocompromised) may be at risk of serious illness. Occasionally babesiosis is misdiagnosed as malaria, but when correctly diagnosed appropriate antibiotic therapy is effective. There are no useful tests available for screening blood donors, although testing strategies are being discussed. The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) requires that all donors be asked if they have a history of babesiosis, and individuals with a history of the disease are deferred from donating blood.

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