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      Human Babesiosis

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      New England Journal of Medicine

      Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Babesiosis: recent insights into an ancient disease.

          Ever since the discovery of parasitic inclusions in erythrocytes of cattle in Romania by Victor Babes at the end of the 19th century, newly recognised babesial pathogens continue to emerge around the world and the substantial public health impact of babesiosis on livestock and man is ongoing. Babesia are transmitted by ixodid ticks and infection of the host causes a host-mediated pathology and erythrocyte lysis, resulting in anemia, hyperbilirubinuria, hemoglobinuria, and possibly organ failure. Recently obtained molecular data, particularly for the 18S rRNA gene, has contributed significantly to a better understanding of the sometimes puzzling phylogenetic situation of the genus Babesia and new information has been added to help determine the taxonomic position of many species. Moreover, it seems that owing to higher medical awareness the number of reported cases in humans is rising steadily. Hitherto unknown zoonotic babesias are now being reported from geographical areas where babesiosis was not known to occur and the growing numbers of immunocompromised individuals suggest that the frequency of cases will continue to rise. This review covers recent insights into human babesiosis with regard to phylogeny, diagnostics and treatment in order to provide new information on well known as well as recently discovered parasites with zoonotic potential.
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            Coinfections acquired from ixodes ticks.

            The pathogens that cause Lyme disease (LD), human anaplasmosis, and babesiosis can coexist in Ixodes ticks and cause human coinfections. Although the risk of human coinfection differs by geographic location, the true prevalence of coinfecting pathogens among Ixodes ticks remains largely unknown for the majority of geographic locations. The prevalence of dually infected Ixodes ticks appears highest among ticks from regions of North America and Europe where LD is endemic, with reported prevalences of < or =28%. In North America and Europe, the majority of tick-borne coinfections occur among humans with diagnosed LD. Humans coinfected with LD and babesiosis appear to have more intense, prolonged symptoms than those with LD alone. Coinfected persons can also manifest diverse, influenza-like symptoms, and abnormal laboratory test results are frequently observed. Coinfecting pathogens might alter the efficiency of transmission, cause cooperative or competitive pathogen interactions, and alter disease severity among hosts. No prospective studies to assess the immunologic effects of coinfection among humans have been conducted, but animal models demonstrate that certain coinfections can modulate the immune response. Clinicians should consider the likelihood of coinfection when pursuing laboratory testing or selecting therapy for patients with tick-borne illness.
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              Atovaquone and azithromycin for the treatment of babesiosis.

              Babesiosis is a tick-borne, malaria-like illness known to be enzootic in southern New England. A course of clindamycin and quinine is the standard treatment, but this regimen frequently causes adverse reactions and occasionally fails. A promising alternative treatment is atovaquone plus azithromycin. We conducted a prospective, nonblinded, randomized trial of the two regimens in 58 subjects with non-life-threatening babesiosis on Nantucket, on Block Island, and in southern Connecticut. The subjects were assigned to receive either atovaquone (750 mg every 12 hours) and azithromycin (500 mg on day 1 and 250 mg per day thereafter) for seven days (40 subjects) or clindamycin (600 mg every 8 hours) and quinine (650 mg every 8 hours) for seven days (18 subjects). Adverse effects were reported by 15 percent of the subjects who received atovaquone and azithromycin, as compared with 72 percent of those who received clindamycin and quinine (P<0.001). The most common adverse effects with atovaquone and azithromycin were diarrhea and rash (each in 8 percent of the subjects); with clindamycin and quinine the most common adverse effects were tinnitus (39 percent), diarrhea (33 percent), and decreased hearing (28 percent). Symptoms had resolved three months after the start of therapy in 65 percent of those who received atovaquone and azithromycin and 73 percent of those who received clindamycin and quinine (P=0.66), and after six months no patient in either group had symptoms. Three months after the completion of the assigned regimen, no parasites could be seen on microscopy, and no Babesia microti DNA was detected in the blood of any subject. For the treatment of babesiosis, a regimen of atovaquone and azithromycin is as effective as a regimen of clindamycin and quinine and is associated with fewer adverse reactions.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                June 21 2012
                June 21 2012
                : 366
                : 25
                : 2397-2407
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMra1202018
                22716978
                © 2012
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