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Babesia Treatment

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Holistic Babesia Treatment Center in Scottsdale, Arizona

Babesiois is a common Lyme disease coinfection. It’s caused by Babesia parasites, most often B. microti,  which infect red blood cells. Babeisa is transmitted by the same ticks that carry Lyme disease, the black-legged tick, but it can also be transmitted during blood transfusions or congenitally from mother to baby.

Symptoms of Babesiosis include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, hot flashes, nausea, dark urine, and more. It becomes serious with the onset of thrombocytopenia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, hemodynamic instability, acute

Babesia is a blood parasite like the parasite that causes malaria. Therefore, treating Babesia requires using combinations of antimicrobials that are also used to treat malaria. Generally, treatments require four to five months. This length of time is required due to immunosuppression caused by Lyme.

Curing Babesia requires treating at least one month longer than the average length of time a red blood cell lives after it is made by the bone marrow in the center of bones. A red blood cell lives for around three months.

Diagnosis of Babesia

Equally worrisome is the fact that the disease can be difficult to diagnose based on symptoms. Nearly all patients with Babesia reported sweats. However, if the patient was coinfected with Lyme disease, the incidence of sweats dropped to 42%. Sweats can also be reported in other tick-borne illnesses.

Babesia can also be difficult to diagnose with current testing. The parasite was detected microscopically in as few as one-third of patients with Babesia. Specific amplifiable DNA and IgM antibody were more likely to be positive. The reliability of tests for Babesia in actual practice remains to be determined.

Babesia tests can become negative. The Babesia sporozoites can be too few in number to be detected on a thin smear or can resolve with or without treatment. It’s been reported that a positive serologic test for B. microti will decay over time, leading to a negative test. Half of the patients with positive serologic tests for B. microti were negative on follow-up.

Treating Babesia

Babesia cannot be treated with the same medications used to treat Lyme disease. Doxycycline is effective for Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis but not for Babesia.   Treatment with Mepron and Zithromax has been effective for Babesia. Quinine and clindamycin have also been effective but are associated with a higher rate of side effects. Flagyl and Tindamax drugs have been proposed but not well studied. The optimal treatment for Babesia has yet to be worked out.

Physicians have different views on the diagnosis and treatment of Babesia. The Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA) guidelines advise:

  1. Symptomatic patients whose serum contains antibodies to Babesia but whose blood lacks identifiable Babesia parasites on smear or Babesia DNA by PCR should not receive treatment.
  2. Treatment is also not recommended for asymptomatic individuals, regardless of the results of the serologic examination, blood smears, or PCR.
  3. Asymptomatic patients with positive Babesial smears and/or PCR should have these studies repeated, and a course of treatment should be considered if Parasitemia persists for >3 months. [9]

There are physicians who have elected not to treat Babesia patients, who are asymptomatic. In 1998, Krause and colleagues reported, “24 of 46 Babesia-infected subjects, who received no specific treatment, had Babesia DNA detectable in their blood for an average of 82 days.”

In 2002, Krause et al reported, “Because symptoms had resolved or improved by the time concurrent Babesiosis or HGE was diagnosed, therapy was not administered to 38 (58%) of the patients with Lyme disease plus Babesiosis.”

There are physicians concerned that symptoms of Babesia may be overlooked when evaluating patients. The symptoms of chronic Lyme disease were overlooked for up to 14 years until reported in the 1990 New England Journal of Medicine by Logigian et al. Meanwhile, the symptoms of Lyme disease were dismissed by the IDSA Lyme disease guideline committee in 2000 and 2006 as nothing more than the aches and pains of daily living. And the severity of the chronic manifestations was not validated until the 4 National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored clinical trials were completed.

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