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Jeff Sutherland

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Devastating new infection from ticks found in blood supply

Roz Zurko,

Babesiosis cases are on the rise, which is much like Lyme Disease, as it is contracted from a tick bite, this infection is going undiagnosed with concerns that it is being spread not only by ticks, but also in through the donated blood supply.

As if Lyme Disease wasn’t enough to worry about when spending anytime outdoors in the warm weather, now a new disease is growing in numbers that is caused by the same insect that causes Lyme, a tick, according to the website Green Living. Lyme Disease is contracted from a tick bite and can be a debilitating disease and even fatal if left untreated. Now the tick bite is causing babesiosisnce. It is a potentially devastating infection that is gaining a foothold in the Northeast. Government researchers have found this disease is becoming more predominant, especially the Lower Hudson Valley and coastal areas of the Northeast.
Babesiosis results from infection with Babesia microti and causes a malaria like illness. This parasite lives in red blood cells and is carried by deer ticks. Though the disease is far less common than Lyme disease, babesiosis can be fatal, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. One of the concerns about the spread of this disease is through the blood supply. Without a widely used screening test for this disease, this is a threat to the blood supply. Sanjai Kumar, who is the chief of the laboratory of emerging pathogens at the Food and Drug Administration says, “We are very worried about it and are doing everything in our power to address this,” according to the NY Times.
The most recent report for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has seen a 20-fold increase in cases of babesisosis. In 2001, there were six cases of this disease reported in the Lower Hudson Valley. This jumped to 119 in 2008. This is particularly of concern in areas that see the greatest cases of Lyme Disease, because it is the same ticks that carry both babesisosis and Lyme. Coastal Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island are the places where Lyme Disease is endemic.
Dr. Peter Krause, senior research scientist at Yale School of Public Health said it is in these areas that see Lyme Disease where babesiosis is also becoming very common. One study done on residents of Block Island R.I. showed that babesiosis to be just 25 percent less common than Lyme Disease. Other areas are seeing the spread of this disease, like the Upper Midwest, but to a slower degree, says Krause.