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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