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babesiosis(bəbē'bēō`sĭs), tick-borne disease caused by a protozoanprotozoan
, informal term for the unicellular heterotrophs of the kingdom Protista. Protozoans comprise a large, diverse assortment of microscopic or near-microscopic organisms that live as single cells or in simple colonies and that show no differentiation into tissues.
..... Click the link for more information. of the genus Babesia. Babesiosis most commonly affects domestic and wild animals and can be a serious problem in cattle, but since the mid-20th cent. the disease has also been found in humans. In most cases the protozoal species is specific to a single host. The organisms enter the blood via a tick bite, then infect the red blood cells where they reproduce by cell division.
Human babesiosis, sometimes called Nantucket fever, was first diagnosed in healthy individuals after an outbreak on Nantucket Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, in the 1970s. The causative organisms are related to those that causes malariamalaria,
infectious parasitic disease that can be either acute or chronic and is frequently recurrent. Malaria is common in Africa, Central and South America, the Mediterranean countries, Asia, and many of the Pacific islands.
..... Click the link for more information. , and are transmitted by the black-legged, or deer, ticks that also host the organisms that cause Lyme diseaseLyme disease
or Lyme borreliosis,
a nonfatal bacterial infection that causes symptoms ranging from fever and headache to a painful swelling of the joints. The first American case of Lyme's characteristic rash was documented in 1970 and the disease was first identified
..... Click the link for more information. and human erhlichiosisehrlichiosis
, any of several diseases caused by rickettsia of the genera Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Ehrlichiosis is transmitted by ticks. Both human forms tend to develop about nine days after a tick bite.
..... Click the link for more information. . Babesiosis can also be transmitted through blood transfusion. The main symptoms are fever and chills, but especially in the elderly and in persons who have a compromised immune system or have had a splenectomy babesiosis can be more severe and sometimes fatal. Treatment is with a combination of antimalarial drugs.