Will Babesiosis challenge Lyme Disease? A new parasite is rising as a rare disease.
With the Babesiosis parasite loose are eastern states safe?
When the nuclear arms race was heating up, many of the old childhood diseases were passing into memories of the distant past. Polio, which had crippled a U. S. president in the 1940s, was going the way of the Dodo bird thanks to Dr. Salk. If we didn’t blow ourselves up it looked like we would indeed conquer all the diseases.
By the time I was eighteen in the late 1960s, diseases like polio, mumps, measles, smallpox, tuberculosis and a slew of others were quickly passing into history.
Then as we approached the 1980s new diseases began to appear. One of these was of course the now infamous Lyme Disease carried by the lovable little Deer Tick. Another one that did not get as much notice was Babesia microti a parasite which has affects similar to malaria. Unlike malaria which is carried by a mosquito, babesiosis is carried by the same loving deer ticks that are involved in transmitting Lyme Disease.
Though the disease has been primarily a disease of the Eastern seaboard (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts) it has appeared in other states and can be anywhere deer and other animals carry the ticks.
The disease caused by this parasite is most pronounced on people with weakened immune systems. Deaths have occurred most often in people who have had there spleens removed although untreated the disease can be fatal to anyone.
To prevent from being a victim of this disease there are a number of things that a person can do. The most extreme is to stay away from places where ticks live. That works, but if you enjoy the woods or seashore, particularly in the northeastern states, there are other options. Insect repellents with DEET in the 10-35% range have been found to be effective in discouraging ticks.
Even if a tick does decide to climb aboard, or you forgot your DEET, all is not lost. If you remove the tick in the first 24 hours it is unlikely that it will have passed the parasite on to you.
Should you feel unusual weakness, get the chills, have a high fever, get the sweats, have a headache or loose your appetite after having a real or potential encounter with a tick these symptoms “might” indicate the disease. Symptoms often first occur a month or more after exposure and may occur as much as a year after exposure.
To find out for sure you doctor will take a blood sample and send it out for tests like the ones that have been developed to identify the parasite. The test may also include tests for Lyme Disease and any other prevalent risk.
If you do have the disease treated with antibiotics either at home or in a hospital setting depending on medical need.
People in the 40 to 50 year old range have the highest risk of contracting this disease. People with compromised immune diseases, who have had their spleens removed and the elderly are the most likely to die from the disease.
People with good immune systems who seek medical treatment are most likely to recover completely from this disease.
Before the late 1970s this and many other new diseases were unknown in the United States. It seems just as we eliminate the old diseases we have a goodly number of new diseases introduced to take the place of the ones we have eliminated or reduced. Babesiosis is one of a number of diseases that along with Lyme Disease, resistant Tuberculosis, Ebola, HIV and West Nile Disease; have given us a new risk to overcome.
As a treatable disease that is acute rather than chronic I have not been able to identify any support groups for it. The link references at the end may be helpful in finding assistance if you think this disease might affect yourself or someone you know.