Babesia causes babesiosis, requires two hosts throughout its life cycle, is transmitted to humans or animals through an infected tick’s bite, infects wild and domestic mammals, reproduces asexually, and is spread worldwide.
There are certain parasites that transmit dangerous diseases to humans and animals, and Babesia is one of them. Babesia is known by several common names like Babesiosis, Redwater Fever and Nantucket Fever. Whatever name you call it, you should know certain facts about this parasite in order to prevent getting infected.
Babesia cause babesiosis
The protozoan parasite causes a hemolytic illness called Babesiosis. Babesiosis is named after the parasite and is a disease with symptoms similar to that of malaria. Babesiosis can significantly affect the health of the infected host. Treatments of babesiosis are similar to malaria and are administered with the atypical antibiotic medications–guanine and clindamycin.
Babesia require two hosts throughout its life cycle
The parasite needs two hosts during its life cycle. The first host is the tick, which produces the sporozoites, or the cell form, which infects subsequent hosts. The second host is the vertebrae host, which the parasite uses for its breeding stage. Transmission occurs directly through the ticks which means hosts cannot infect each other directly.
Babesia are transmitted to humans or animals through an infected tick’s bite
When an infected tick bites into the skin of a human or animal for nourishment, it will subsequently transmit the parasite as the tick continues to molt through its different development phases. The parasite will survive inside the infected tick and will easily be transmitted to the tick’s host if it is undetected. The babesiosis will then live inside certain parts of vertebrae in the host’s body like some organs in the circulatory system and in the host’s red blood cells. Some species of the parasite are transmitted from female ticks to their offspring.
Babesia infect wild and domestic mammals
Many wild and domestic animals like dogs, deer, cattle and rodents may be infected by the parasite. In fact Babesiosis is known to be one of the most common parasites in the blood of mammals. The white-footed mouse is said to be the main reservoir of the disease while the deer tick becomes the primary carrier. Almost 60% of mice may be infected in endemic areas, and experiments reveal that almost all of the contaminated mice produce infected ticks.
Babesua reproduce asexually
The parasites typically exist in pairs in the host’s red blood cells, but they are able to reproduce asexually. Infected ticks transmit sporozoites to a mouse, and the sporozoites move to the red blood cells and subsequently reproduce. While in the blood cells, ticks can still ingest the parasites as they continue to draw the host’s blood. The incubation period can span from 1 to 6 weeks.
Babesia are spread worldwide
Babesiosis is spread worldwide, but because the symptoms are similar to malaria, its prevalence is difficult to ascertain in countries that have high rates of malaria. Reported cases in European countries occur in patients that have undergone splenectomies. The most common strain reported in the United States is the babesia microti. In some states, such as California and Washington, the babesia duncani strain is isolated in patients.
Knowledge of babesiosis is important in order to come up with preventive measures and treatments especially in countries that have widespread reports of this parasite.