An adjunct in the diagnosis of babesiosis
Follow-up of documented babesiosis
Previous episodes of babesiosis may produce a positive serologic result.
In selected cases, documentation of infection may be attempted by animal inoculation or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods (LBAB / Babesia species, Molecular Detection, PCR, Blood)
Performance characteristics have not been established for the following specimen characteristics:
Babesiosis is a zoonotic infection caused by the protozoan parasite Babesia microti. The infection is acquired by contact with Ixodes ticks carrying the parasite. The deer mouse is the animal reservoir and, overall, the epidemiology of this infection is much like that of Lyme disease. Babesiosis is most prevalent in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific Coast of the United States.
Infectious forms (sporozoites) are injected during tick bites and the organism enters the vascular system where it infects RBCs. In this intraerythrocytic stage it becomes disseminated throughout the reticuloendothelial system. Asexual reproduction occurs in RBCs, and daughter cells (merozoites) are formed which are liberated on rupture (hemolysis) of the RBC.
Most cases of babesiosis are probably subclinical or mild, but the infection can be severe and life threatening, especially in older or asplenic patients. Fever, fatigue, malaise, headache, and other flu-like symptoms occur most commonly. In the most severe cases, hemolysis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and shock may develop. Patients may have hepatomegaly and splenomegaly.
A serologic test can be used as an adjunct in the diagnosis and follow-up of babesiosis, when infection is chronic or persistent, or in seroepidemiologic surveys of the prevalence of the infection in certain populations. Babesiosis is usually diagnosed by observing the organisms in infected RBC on Giemsa-stained thin blood films of smeared peripheral blood. Serology may also be useful if the parasitemia is too low to detect or if the infection has cleared naturally or following treatment.
Reference values apply to all ages.