Tickborne Disease

Human Babesiosis

Life cycle of Babesia microti

TERC produced a 3 minute video on the life cycle of Babesia microti. The video traces how the Babesia parasite is transmitted to deer ticks from the blood of white-footed mice, and then finally onto humans through tick saliva.

Human babesiosis, a malaria-like infection that is sometimes fatal, was first convincingly diagnosed in the United States on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in 1970s. In the Northeast, the blacklegged deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the principal vector transmitting the etiologic agent, Babesia microti. This tick is also the primary vector of Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia bugdorferi. Natural maintenance of both infections in the Northeast appears to mainly involve interactions between Peromyscus leucopus and the blacklegged tick. In areas where these diseases are endemic, concurrent infections by both pathogens in P. leucopus and in I. scapularis are common. It has been experimentally demonstrated that a single tick bite can transmit either one of the pathogens alone or both together during a blood meal. Therefore, the potential for simultaneous acquisition of two infections through the bite of an infective tick seems similar.

Watch Life cycle of Babesia microti

Currently, Lyme disease is the most frequently reported arthropod-borne disease in the United States, however, far fewer cases of human babesiosis have been reported than those of Lyme disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, more than 13,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 1994 from 43 states, nearly a sixty percent increase over the number reported in 1993 and approximately a 26-fold increase from the 491 cases reported from 11 states in 1982. Contrarily, only a few hundred cases of human babesiosis have been reported nation wide in the last two decades.

Animal Planet: Monsters Inside Me episode on Babesiosis

Date: 7.01.2009

Monster Inside Me

Animal Planet interviewed Dr. Mather from our TickEncounter Resource Center in the episode on Babesiosis of "Monster Inside Me". The show first aired on July 1, 2009 on Animal Planet.

Animal Planet : Monster's Inside Me Babesiosis clip