Warning: Babesiosis/A Tick Born Illness

 

This is going to be an odd post from me. My writings are mostly on substance abuse issues, but I feel it it extremely important to bring notice to Babesiosis that is going around without doctors educating the people of this illness. I have been out of commission and suffered for six weeks with this horrible tick illness. This is worse than Lyme Disease.

Description

Babesiosis is an infection caused by a malaria-like parasite, also called a “piroplasm,” that infects red blood cells. Babesia microti is believed to be the most common piroplasm infecting humans, but scientists have identified over twenty piroplasms carried by ticks. Ticks may carry only Babesia or they may be infected with both Babesia and Lyme spirochetes. People can also get babesiosis from a contaminated blood transfusion.

The first case of babesiosis was reported from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, in 1969. Since the late1980’s, the disease has spread from the islands off the New England coast to the mainland. Cases have also been reported all across the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Symptoms

Symptoms of babesiosis are similar to those of Lyme disease but it more often starts with a high fever and chills. As the infection progresses, patients may develop fatigue, headache, drenching sweats, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. Babesiosis is often so mild it is not noticed but can be life-threatening to people with no spleen, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems. Complications include very low blood pressure, liver problems, severe hemolytic anemia (a breakdown of red blood cells), and kidney failure.

My onset with this illness started in June of this summer when I discovered a “tiny” tick on my upper thigh while showering. I thought it was a piece of lint left from my slacks when I undressed, until I saw a movement from the tick.

It took my husband a long time getting it off with tweezers and putting the whole tick into a baggie in the freezer. The next day, we brought the tick to the doctor who sent it to a lab. I was then sent for a blood test for Lyme disease. The lab goofed and found what kind of tick (deer) but didn’t test for Lyme. The doctor instantly put me on doxycycline for two weeks because these ticks carry Lyme. The test came back negative, so I just carried on with my life as usual.

In August, I noticed I was doing a lot of sleeping on the couch each day and found I had a hard time waking up. I felt drugged. If we went shopping in the morning or other activities, when we came home, I felt weak and had to lay down. After two weeks, I knew this was not normal and called for an appointment. 

The doctors did an EKG on me to see if my heart wasn’t having problems. I am a heart patient with a pacemaker and a diabetic. Everything seemed fine.

Then I got chills, a low-grade fever, body aches, the sweats had me keeping a towel by my bedside to wipe myself, no energy, sleeping during the day, neck soreness, and nausea 24/7 for over two weeks.
Within a week, I developed a huge rash on the back of my waist that was itchy and then turned to pain.

There was no bulls-eye in the center. I had to go through a different blood test which showed Babesiosis. The doctor said lucky this was found because it breaks down the red blood cells and can cause kidney failure. I was then sent for another type of blood test for the red blood cells and kidneys. 

I was immediately put on 1-600 mg of Azithromycin to start and 9 days of 500 mg, on top of Atovaquone 750/5mil, 1 tsp twice a day for 10 days. This medicine cost $700 unless you are lucky like I was, to have the secondary insurance pick some up. It cost me $145. 

Why did I have a negative report in June? I was told that the test was done too soon to show up and that the second round of medicines were the only ones that cure this disease. I am starting to feel myself after four months. 

If anyone is suffering from these symptoms, get a blood test for an unnoticed tick bite. This is a form of Malaria and will keep returning if it is not treated. Your kidneys can also shutdown. After a week of treatment, on my request, I had a blood test again on my kidneys and red blood cells to make sure they were clear because I was still sweating at night.

When I repeat my A1C test in December, I will request the same blood test along with my blood count to confirm no damage has been caused. 

Two doctors told my husband and I that there are more cases of Babesiosis going around than people realize. I also received a call from the Board of Health, needing to report my treatment and medicine that I was taking.

If you have been suffering with these symptoms, do not take them lightly. After three years, one family member had no idea why he was sick with joint pain, headaches, and sweats and learned through tests that he had had Babesiosis way back then. This disease had a long length of time to progress and attacked his body with symptoms that will keep coming back on him as Malaria would show. 

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