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Human Coinfection with Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti in the United States.

Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, and Babesia microti, a causative agent of babesiosis, are increasingly implicated in the growing tick-borne disease burden in the northeastern United States. These pathogens are transmitted via the bite of an infected tick vector, Ixodes scapularis, which is capable of harboring and inoculating a host with multiple pathogens simultaneously. Clinical presentation of the diseases is heterogeneous and ranges from mild flu-like symptoms to near-fatal cardiac arrhythmias. While the reason for the variability is not known, the possibility exists that concomitant infection with both B. burgdorferi and B. microti may synergistically increase disease severity. In an effort to clarify the current state of understanding regarding coinfection with B. burgdorferi and B. microti, in this review, we discuss the geographical distribution and pathogenesis of Lyme disease and babesiosis in the United States, the immunological response of humans to B. burgdorferi or B. microti infection, the existing knowledge regarding coinfection disease pathology, and critical factors that have led to ambiguity in the literature regarding coinfection, in order to eliminate confusion in future experimental design and investigation.

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