Babesiosis: Appreciating the Pathophysiology and Diverse Sequela of the Infection

Juan Fernando Ortiz, Paul W Millhouse, Álvaro Morillo Cox, Leticia Campoverde, Arveen Kaur, Martín Wirth, Adam Atoot
Curēus 2020 October 21, 12 (10): e11085
Babesiosis is a blood-borne disease found mainly in the United States caused by a parasitic piroplasm. While most infections are mild to moderate in immunocompetent hosts, life-threatening complications can occur in those with significant comorbidities like congestive heart failure (CHF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is sparse literature discussing the complications of Babesia microti infection or the pathophysiology and management thereof. A literature review was conducted to consolidate the current knowledge about the disease, pathophysiology, and proposed management of all potential complications based on risk factors and other clinical information. A MeSH cross-references strategy was employed in PubMed using the search terms "babesia" and "babesiosis" and the established associated conditions, and the search expanded to increase capture. Only papers written in the English language and discussing human subjects in the North American patient population were included. The initial search yielded 315 papers and, after applying the inclusion/exclusion criteria, a final number of 18 was reviewed. The various complications and pathophysiology thereof are then discussed according to organ system. Babesia is a subversive parasite associated with a variety of conditions. We hope a better appreciation of all potential presentations and complications will help clinicians manage this increasingly common zoonosis and reduce adverse effects. More research is recommended into the pathophysiology and prevention of complications following this and other tick-borne illnesses.

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