Babesiosis, the Other Tick-Borne Disease
Boston Globe; C1
Described by some medical specialists as the "neglected brother of Lyme disease," babesiosis is another tick-borne disease that can be fatal if left untreated. It is a sometimes fatal malaria-like infection from the parasites found on ticks and exhibits symptoms similar to Lyme disease. The peak of summer is usually the best time for the proliferation of babesiosis as people spend more time outdoors. The heaviest hit state in the United States is Massachusetts, which has reported over 200 cases during the last 10 years, mostly in Nantucket. Officials believe this statistic is lower than actual numbers of cases because the nature of the illness makes it sometimes indistinguishable from influenza or mononucleosis, making correct diagnosis difficult. Babesiosis is not bacterial like Lyme disease, but rather it is a parasite that attacks the body's red blood cells; but caught early enough, can be cured with a regiment of antiparasitic drugs and in more critical cases, blood transfusions. Reports of babesiosis cases from Connecticut and Rhode Island are increasing, and concerned health officials feel the highly publicized Lyme disease may be making the diagnosis and prevention of babesiosis more difficult. They also note that the Lyme disease vaccine will not protect against other tick-borne diseases, such as babesiosis and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis.