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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/6/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tick-borne infection called Babesiosis can cause organ failure, death

It's a rare - but extremely deadly blood disease known as Babesiosis that's finding its way into the nation's blood supply. Occurring in seven U.S. states, usually in the spring and summer, Babesia infections are marked by anemia, fever, chills and fatigue, but they can also cause organ failure - even death. Premature infants appear to be especially susceptible. More alarming is the fact that there is no known test to detect the disease in blood donations.

Of the 162 cases of Babesia infection caused by blood transfusions between 1979 and 2009, nearly 80 percent occurred between 2000 and 2009.

Of the 162 cases of Babesia infection caused by blood transfusions between 1979 and 2009, nearly 80 percent occurred between 2000 and 2009.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/6/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Blood transfusion, Babesiosis, newborn infants


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are currently no diagnostic tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can detect Babesiosis before people donate blood. Furthermore, a 31-year study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the parasitic infection may be increasing.

States in which the parasite occurs are Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin. However - a recent study has found cases of Babesia as far away as Texas and Florida.

Of the 162 cases of Babesia infection caused by blood transfusions between 1979 and 2009, nearly 80 percent occurred between 2000 and 2009.

"Babesia microti has become the most frequently reported transfusion-transmitted parasite in the United States," CDC researchers write. Babesia outpaces malaria infections, which accounted for 49 cases of transfusion-associated disease during the same period, which included just five cases during 2000-2009.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at seven cases of transfusion-associated Babesiosis in premature infants. Researchers found blood transfusions from two infected units of blood caused all seven of the cases of Babesiosis.

Symptoms of the infections varied widely, but babies with the lowest weights at birth were at greatest risk of serious infection.

Doctors were warned in areas in which Babesiosis occurs to be watchful for cases in premature infants exposed to blood transfusions.

The CDC researchers have called for better ways to prevent and detect cases of transfusion-associated Babesiosis.

"Our findings underscore the year-round vulnerability of the U.S. blood supply -- especially, but not only -- in and near Babesiosis-endemic areas." the CDC researchers say.

"They also highlight the importance of multi-agency collaborative efforts to detect, investigate, and document transfusion cases; to assess the risks for transfusion transmission; and, thereby, to inform the scope of prevention measures."

 

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