What is Babesiosis? Are We At Risk in Minnesota?

What is Babesiosis?

Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease spread by the bite of an infected deer tick. It is caused by a parasite called Babesia microti that is transferred to mammals by infected ticks. You may hear about it in the news on occasion as it can be life-threatening.

What are the Symptoms of Babesiosis?

It is possible to become infected with Babesiosis and experience no symptoms at all. But some develop general flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can include chills, sweats, fever, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue.

Babesia parasites infect red blood cells and destroy them which can cause a special type of anemia, hemolytic anemia. This could eventually cause jaundice and dark urine.

Babesiosis gets dangerous for people with certain types of conditions, including those who have no spleen, a weak immune system, serious health conditions such as liver or kidney disease or are elderly. Babesiosis can lead to low and unstable blood pressure, hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, disseminated intravascular coagulation which can lead to blood clots and bleeding, failing organs and even death.

Treatment for Babesiosis

Babesiosis is treatable, but only those with symptoms will require treatment. Usually, Babesiosis is treated with a 7-10 day drug combination of an antibiotic and an antiparasitic.

If you experience flu-like symptoms or any of the more severe symptoms above after potentially being exposed to a tick bite, you should see your doctor right away. Even if you are not sure if a tick bit you, you are better safe than sorry. Ticks are tiny and not always noticed.

Babesiosis in Minnesota

While Babesiosis is rare as far as tick-borne disease is concerned, it is here, and on the rise, in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health reports we had 45 confirmed and probable cases of Babesiosis in 2015.

For questions about tick-borne diseases or how to control ticks on your property, call Mosquito Squad of the Twin Cities today. We offer highly effective tick control options so you can enjoy your yard with fewer ticks and greater peace of mind. 

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