CHICAGO (Reuters) – A tick-borne infection known as Babesiosis, which can cause severe disease and even death, is becoming a growing threat to the U.S. blood supply, government researchers said on Monday.

There are currently no diagnostic tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can detect the infection before people donate blood.

A 31-year study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now suggests the parasitic infection may be increasing.

Babesia infections are marked by anemia, fever, chills and fatigue, but they can also cause organ failure and death.

The still rare disease is known to occur in seven U.S. states in the Northeast and Upper Midwest in the spring and summer.

But a study led by Dr. Barbara Herwaldt of the CDC, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found cases had occurred year-round and in states where Babesia parasites are not found — including as far away as Texas and Florida.

States in which the parasite occurs naturally are Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

Of the 162 cases of Babesia infection caused by blood transfusions between 1979 and 2009, nearly 80 percent occurred between 2000 and 2009.

“Babesia microti has become the most frequently reported transfusion-transmitted parasite in the United States,” CDC researchers wrote, far outpacing malaria infections, which accounted for 49 cases of transfusion-associated disease during the same period, including just five cases during 2000-2009.

Premature infants appear to be especially vulnerable.

A separate study published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics by a team at the University of Nebraska looked at seven cases of transfusion-associated Babesiosis in premature infants.

They found blood transfusions from two infected units of blood caused all seven of the cases of Babesiosis.

Symptoms of the infections varied widely, but babies with the lowest weights at birth were at greatest risk of serious infection.

The authors warned doctors in areas in which Babesiosis occurs to be watchful for cases in premature infants exposed to blood transfusions.

The CDC researchers called for better ways to prevent and detect cases of transfusion-associated Babesiosis.

“Our findings underscore the year-round vulnerability of the U.S. blood supply — especially, but not only — in and near Babesiosis-endemic areas.

“They also highlight the importance of multi-agency collaborative efforts to detect, investigate, and document transfusion cases; to assess the risks for transfusion transmission; and, thereby, to inform the scope of prevention measures.”

To deter transfusion-linked Babesiosis, the CDC in January said public health departments should report all cases of the infections to the CDC.

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Comments on: "Tick-borne parasite infecting blood supply: CDC" (5)

  1. Interesting, you would think that after AIDS, MAD Cow and so many other diseases that they would screen the blood before selling it. At leaset in Canada people donate for free, so the poor and sick are not selling their blood. Unfortunately we rely more and more on U.S. for testing which is not being done independently anymore.
    Do you ever wonder who the CDC actually works for? I clicked on the article to read the comments as well which were also interesting. Something worse than Lyme or Babesia is one easier to catch and that is Bartonella as it comes from fleas. Who gets fleas: mice, birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, squirrels, racoons, wolf, fox. etc. Don’t forget mycoplasma from mosquitoes, invented in the US and developed and disbursed by Canada. We are being poisoned by the very people we pay to protect us all in the name of corporate profit.

  2. Pat Van Niekerk said:

    Have i missed the bus, or has this study been posted on this blog? I read it on the Morgellons Research Foundation website. It is an independent study done by a group of doctors and they have found that Morgellons is indeed a very real disease. It was posted in the Journal of Medical Case Reports.

  3. I almost lost a dear friend due to Babesiosis last year, she was about to be spinal tapped for whatever the Drs, thought was beyond meningitis, would have killed her. We only have so much spinal fluid, it’s not like blood. A Nurse familiar with babesiosis, stopped the test by running down the hall way, screaming..”wait”!

    How scary is that? pets are the worst carriers! You can all blow a coronary, but my itchy dog is right below me. We are almost over the hump!

    I am convinced that there is a tick borne disease, Carried by us all on our clothing , luggage, now in food and in the blood supply.

    Please do not take a transfusion in the hospital unless you are sure that is from a family member that is “clear”… i.e. “non symptomatic”.

    I may sound like a nut, but sometimes you gotta follow your instincts, these are my said instincts and I am sticking by them.

    Yes, I do finally now think it can be communicable, a friend here visiting who visited me at my “onset” is now symptomatic (early stages).

    My heart is broken. I have tried so hard to protect everyone I know… rigorously and painfully.

    Fortunately I gave her some things that help , including the sulfur soap, and a heavy dose of the healthy eating, yadda yadda.

    Biofreeze for arthritis is this person’s new best friend for the “itchy spots”.

    Hands and feet! Good Lord!

    My friend with who had the big B has a hubby that’s lost in an instant!

    How long can this go on?

  4. Janet Davis said:

    So the CDC can find Barbesiosis in blood supply, but can’t find collembola? Unreal!

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