Babesiosis Can Be Spread Through Blood Transfusions

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blood transfusion bags

Many Lyme patients also have Babesiosis (or Babesia), a malaria-like infection that lives in red blood cells and can be fatal. While Lyme doctors have known about Babesia and test and treat for it, there hasn’t been much said about it in the press.

That’s why articles like this one in the New York Times (6/20/11) are so important to raise the public’s, and medical doctors’, awareness (link below).

While an infected tick can transmit Babesia along with Lyme and other tick-borne infections through a bite, spreading Babesia through blood transfusions is more troublesome since more people can be infected and many transfusion recipients already have compromised health and immune system problems.

This is reminiscent of the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the early 1980’s when blood bank organizations refused to consider that HIV could be transmitted through transfusions. Hopefully this time it won’t take so long for health authorities to act.

Experts fear that many undiagnosed patients may be donating blood. Currently, blood banks do not screen for Babesia because the Food and Drug Administration has not licensed a test for this purpose. The only way to screen a patient is by using a questionnaire, which simply asks blood donors if they are infected.

Between 1999 and 2007, several infants in Rhode Island developed babesiosis following blood transfusions. The Rhode Island Blood Center has become the first in the country to use an experimental new test to screen blood for the parasite.

Find the whole article at: Once Rare, Infection by Tick Bites Spreads

P.S. It’s puzzling that spreading Lyme by transfusion isn’t mentioned in this article. The Lyme organism, Borrelia burdorferi, lives as a spirochete in the blood stream and can become cell-wall deficient in the red blood cells. You’d think the FDA and concerned medical labs would want to be protecting our blood supply from that too.

UPDATE: See the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Discover Magazine for: Babesia Parasite Taints the Blood Supply.

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14 Responses to “Babesiosis Can Be Spread Through Blood Transfusions”

  1. deb Says:

    hi Pam,
    i live in queensland in Australia and have been diagnosed with lyme disease (finally) i have been sick for about 2 years now. My problem is finding a doctor literate in lyme and co infections in my area, i had to travel interstate to even get the diagnosis. Do you know of any doctors in queensland that treat lyme and babesia ? i live in helensvale 4212.
    thx Deb


  2. Pearl Says:

    I was diagnosed with Lyme and Bartonella in Dec. ’11. I might have Babesia as I have some symptoms, but I’ve tesetd negative 3 tiems. While my trip through the rabbit hole started with fatigue in Aug.’10, I suspect that I was actually infected back in Nov.’05. I had a mysterious fever, completely lost my voice, had chills, and overwhelming malaise. I was on vacation with my mother and she gave me 7 days of Amoxicillin she had with her. I recovered surprisingly quickly, considering how bad I felt. For the next 4-5 years, I had bouts of terrible fatigue that would wipe me out for 1-3 weeks, then go away. I would feel normal again for the 6-11 months between these bouts.

    I donated blood a couple times in 2006-7 during periods of time when I felt fine. I am worried I could have passed on any one of these diseases to someone else through a transfusion. Should I call the Red Cross and tell them?


    • Pam Dodd Says:

      Pearl: I checked the American Red Cross website to see what they test for in donated blood. Lyme and associated diseases are not listed. The site says “Concerns related to the safety of the blood you donated or illness after donation: Please contact the Donor Support and Client Services Center at: 1 866 236 3276.” You’d probably feel better if you report it. I’m not sure, however, what difference it will make in Red Cross policies.

      Are you being treated by an LLMD? If not and you’d like info on how to find one near you, let me know and I’ll send info. Thanks for bringing up this important issue connected with transmitting and getting Lyme, etc.


  3. Tori Says:

    Pam, I am wondering if Lyme is the answer to all my health issues. Can you send me info on Drs. in the Cincinnati area that are knowledgeable about this disease?


  4. zonia Says:

    muchas gracias, ojala que al fin pueda salir de este infierno de dudas y frustraciones, estoy tratando de sensibilizar a traves de los medios,television hispana donde podrian tratar el asunto y a la congresista nuestra Ileana Ross, he escrito a muchos, pidiendo que presten atencion a esta epidemia,alguien escuchara,
    que se conozca por los hispanos, porque casi toda la informacion esta en ingles y pienso no solo en resolver mi situacion personal, sino que se que muchos estan ignorando la gravedad de este sindrome y lo estan tratando con muchos medicamentos, con multiples efectos secundarios y que se ira agravando dia dia, sin lograr saber que nos esta produciendo la perdida de nuestra calidad de vida. , que los especialistas infectologos se encuentren tan desactualzados,he visto dos y dicen “NO TIENES LYME”, Y TODO TERMINA AHI…no se investiga, hay mucha indiferencia increible que esto este sucedendo aqui en miami, ellos me dijeron que aqui no hay bosques y venados…!!!!


    • Pam Dodd Says:

      Me disculpo por mi español. Estoy usando un servicio gratuito de traducción en línea. También muchos políticos no parecen estar interesados ​​en Lyme. Estoy de acuerdo. Muchos están haciendo caso omiso de la gravedad de este síndrome. Lo más triste para mí es que todos los médicos que saben poco o nada acerca de Lyme. No es sólo en la Florida que los médicos mal informados están diciendo personas que no hay garrapatas y Lyme no en su área. Usted también debe saber que los mosquitos, moscas y pulgas también pueden transmitir de Lyme. Así que muchas personas se les dice “usted no tiene Lyme”, cuando en realidad lo hacen. Aquellos de nosotros con Lyme comparte tus mismas frustraciones. Lo siento, no hay más sitios web en español de Lyme.


  5. June Says:

    what tests are best to diagnose for babesia?


  6. mary h Says:

    Does anyone every get cured from lyme? i always read about chronic lyme disease, but never read about anyone being cured of the disease. I am 71 and don’t have the time to wait, so its important to me to find out if I can possibly be cured. Maybe i am not taking the right meds, or the right dr.. please let me know if anyone gets rid of Babesia.


    • Pam Dodd Says:

      Mary: Being close to your age, I hear you on “let’s hurry up with this.” Some people do get rid of Lyme, and Babesia. However, many people with Lyme and some of the more intractable infections that often come with it have to settle with feeling much better but not being 100% cured. They may have to go back on antibiotics occasionally but certainly can live functional lives for many years (and may ultimately die from something else unrelated to Lyme).

      If you’d like to pursue finding another doctor, let me know where you live and I’ll send you info. Thanks for asking.


    • zona Says:

      en esa situacion me encuentro aqui en miami, no estoy segura de nada sobre esta enfermedad, tengo dos bandas positivas en un w blot…tendre lyme?, me dijeron los medicos qu vi que no la tengo porque se necesitan 5 bandas?!!


      • Pam Dodd Says:

        Zona, la mayoría de los médicos regulares no saben cómo diagnosticar Lyme. Y la mayoría utiliza la prueba del CDC, con no es exacto. Le envié información de Florida Lyme. Buena suerte!

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