Why is Babesiosis, one of the many tick-co-infections on the rise?
Babesiosis is caused by protozoal parasite, Babisia microti or its cousins. It is not a bacterial infection like the other Lyme co-infections. Malaria is also a protozoal parasite and there are similar symptoms. The difference is Malaria is passed through mosquitos and Lyme is by ticks..
“Babesia is most commonly spread in the U.S. by the black-legged or deer tick, also known as the Ixodes scapularis. The parasite is usually transmitted when ticks are in the nymph stage and are often found in grassy, wooded, and brush areas. Nymph deer ticks are tiny, meaning many people may not realize they’ve been bitten.”
It is not that Babesiosis is actually increasing as many articles state, but that they are testing for this co-infection more often now and that there are more accurate tests to diagnose it now. Today people and more doctors are aware of this tick co-infection and so the official numbers are going up. According to the CDC, it is the milder winters here in the US.
The CDC considers it one of the least common co-infections but is considered one of the most common infections by Lyme doctors and Igenex. Ask those who have recently been diagnosed with a Babesia infection after being sick for months or years, they would disagree. Many of these patients were diagnosed only recently when antibiotics did not take away their symptoms after being treated for Lyme only. In many cases, they paid thousands to go to a Lyme literate doctor and get those co-infection specialized tests.
What is sad is there are many thousands who are infected with Babesiosis and not diagnosed and getting proper treatment. There are differences in symptoms of the various tick diseases. Some of the symptoms are shared by all the co-infections but some symptoms are more severe in each co-infection.
Where are cases increasing according to the CDC?
I again emphasize that babesia has been ignored through the years and still is grossly underdiagnosed. Up until recently there were not tests to adequately diagnose this co-infection.
“Among the states that do require reporting, eight saw significant increases in case numbers from 2011 to 2019, according to the CDC’s first comprehensive national surveillance on babesiosis. In three states — Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire — case numbers increased so much that the CDC says babesiosis should be considered endemic. Increases also were noted in states where the disease already was endemic: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.”
Why is Babesiosis so undiagnosed and untreated?
Babesiosis is different from the other tick co-infections because it is a protozoal parasite that affects red blood cells and destroys them. The other co-infections are bacterial. Some of the antibiotics and herbs used on the other tick co-infections do not work on Babesiosis. It needs a different protocol whether treated with antibiotics or herbs. Most often, it is not even tested for when you go to the doctor, so it is not treated properly if at all.
Babesiosis symptoms include: Night and day sweats, air hunger shortness of breath, dry, chronic cough, fullness of throat, difficulty in swollowing, severe headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, capillary angiomas, vasculitis, easy bruising, symptoms of the head, sinus and jaw, Bell’s Palsy, nausea, ear ringing, blurry vision, nightmares, brain symptoms of being spacy, woozy, or impending doom, and failure to respond to Lyme treatment protocols.
“The agency says that the parasite can be transmitted via a blood transfusion, and that those who contract the disease through contaminated blood have “significantly worse health outcomes.” What is Babesiosis? The tick-borne disease that’s on the rise in 8 states : NPR
Note: Often you have both Lyme disease, Babesia, and other co-infections as well at the same time. You will have symptoms from both Lyme and Babesia occurring at the same time. Most doctors will refuse to test for co-infections if you test positive for Lyme.
More Severe Symptoms when sick with both can include hemolytic anemia, central nervous system disturbances, high fevers, shaking chills, transverse myelitis which is inflammation of the spinal cord with arm and leg impairment, severe arthritis symptoms, acute respiratory distress, depression, renal failure, thrombocytopenia or a low blood platelet count, and death.
“Babesia can also increase the duration of illness with Lyme disease. Babesia patients can remain symptomatic for years with constitutional, musculoskeletal, or neurological symptoms. One study found that 50% of coinfected patients were symptomatic for 3 months or longer, compared to only 4% of patients who had Lyme disease alone.  Meanwhile, one-third of patients with a history of both Babesia and Lyme disease remained symptomatic an average of 6 years. ”
The Beginners Guide to Lyme Disease by Nicola McFadzean, N.D., Chapter 9, page 77
Healing Lyme by the late Stephen Harrod Buhner, one of the great experts on Lyme. He is considered one of the top three Lyme Disease and its co-infection experts. Pages 179,180.181
Testing for Babesia
There are over 100 different forms of the Babesia protozoa. There are only 3 that generally affect people. Babisia microti is the main one found in the Central and Eastern US. A new type of babesia called WA-1 was recently discovered as the cause of human diseases on the Pacific Coast in Washington and California. It has since been renamed to B. duncani. The new tests that are available are still often not sensitive enough and false negatives are frequent. These tests are not often covered by insurance and are very expensive.
Igenex is considered by most Lyme expert doctors to have the most accurate and sensitive Babesia tests .
ImmunoBlotting is a form of IgM and IgG testing that uses multiple pure, recombinant proteins sprayed in precise amounts at specific positions on the test strips to dramatically increase accuracy. It has long been considered the gold standard in infectious disease testing for superior sensitivity and specificity. These tests effectively replace traditional tests such as ELISA and the western blot.
Until recently, diagnostic tests for Babesia have been grossly imprecise and have not been able to detect many of the ever-growing lists of species and strains. The IGeneX ImmunoBlots testing overcomes these obstacles with the ability to detect antibodies to multiple species of Babesia, including B. microti and B. duncani.
- Uses specifically created recombinant proteins and not proteins from cultures
- Unlike IFA, can detect multiple species in one test
- Detects the full spectrum of disease: early, active and late-stage
- Detects Babesia genus and speciates to B. microti and B. duncani
- Avoids the error prone process of visualizing slides through a microscope”
New PCR test avail from Igenex
“Culture testing is widely considered to be the “gold standard” for diagnosis of Babesia. For many years, Babesia cultures were too expensive and tedious to be practical for laboratory use. Until now. After many years of research and development, IGeneX is pleased to introduce cePCR (Culture-Enhanced PCR) for Babesia.
In culturing, a clinical sample from the body (e.g. blood) is incubated in media.
During this incubation period, micro-organisms in the sample grow and multiply. The sample is then tested by PCR to identify the pathogens.
Advantages of Culture-Enhanced PCR
• Provides higher sensitivity than standard PCR testing.
• The only 100% specific method for identification of Babesia.• Obtaining cultures before antibiotic use improves the chances of identifying the offending microorganism, which improves patient care.”
Herbal Babesiosis Treatment
Artemisia Annua (Artemisinin) is considered the most effective herb to treat Babesiosis by most Lyme disease doctors who use herbal protocols.
Artemisia is effective against all stages of the life cycle, can cross the blood-brain barrier, antimalarial, antiparasitic, antitumor, antiviral, Immunomodulator, anti-spirochetal and used most often in treating these infections. The most accurate treatment dosages and for a in depth discussion on how to use this herb against Babesia, go to Healing Lyme, pages 179-184. by Dr. Buhner. His dosages recommend 300 to 500 mgs daily for 30 to 60 days. Before you take this herb read his detailed information on how to take it, side effects, and other information you need to know before you take it. You should take this under the direction of a neuropathic doctor who specializes in Lyme disease treatment. It is advised to take a week off each month from using the herb and check your liver enzymes as well.
Other herbs that are effective against protoza are Cryptolepis Sanguinolenta, and sida acuta.
It is advised to take herbs for Babesia under the direction of a Lyme literate doctor who specializes in herbal protocols.
Lifestyle Approaches along with herbal protocols
You need to treat all Lyme Co-infections on many levels including addressing lifestyle factors, diet, mold exposure, candida, endocrine imbalances, hormonal imbalances, immune imbalances, and toxic chemicals in your lifestyle. Treating Lyme is not just antibiotics or herbals but a full layer program to improve overall health and wellness.
“As has been shown, immune dysfunction is by far the greatest risk factor both for the development of severe disease and for relapsing and persistent infection. Thus, one of the most important approaches to treating Babesia infections is to cultivate a lifestyle designed to support and even improve immune functioning. This would include getting consistent, quality sleep, eating a nutrient-rich diet of whole foods, protecting gut health through the use of prebiotics and probiotics, and supplementing with immune-boosting agents, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, folate, Vitamin D, and antimicrobial peptides found in fermented foods.
In addition to boosting immune function, you’ll also want to prioritize inflammation reduction, as the inflammatory process is often the principal catalyst in the progression of Babesia disease, resulting in the worst of the damage done to the body’s cells and tissues. Probiotics including Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, and Lactobacillus collinoides, which are often found in fermented foods, can significantly reduce inflammation-producing cytokines. In addition to diet, supplementation, and lifestyle changes, inflammation may also be reduced through regenerative medicine approaches, including the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) infusions, and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF).”
Treating Babesia with antibiotics
“Babesia cannot be treated with the same medications used to treat Lyme disease. Doxycycline is effective for Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis but not for Babesia. “
“This means that out of the estimated 300,000 cases of Lyme disease reported annually in the U.S., 120,000 of those individuals may also have Babesia. This is particularly alarming given that the disease can go undetected in asymptomatic individuals and is transmissible through blood transfusions or congenitally. Additionally, Babesia requires different treatment than Lyme disease.”
“Treatment with Mepron and Zithromax has been effective for Babesia. Quinine and clindamycin have also been effective but are associated with a higher rate of side effects. Flagyl and Tindamax drugs have been proposed but not well studied. The optimal treatment for Babesia has yet to be worked out.”
Healing Lyme by Dr. Buhner,
The Beginners Guide to Lyme Disease by Dr. Nicola McFadzean, N.D.