Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
Babesia microti was isolated from a white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) that was captured in southeastern Connecticut in 1988, when the first human case of babesiosis acquired in Connecticut was recognized. To date, 13 cases of babesiosis have been reported in Connecticut, the largest number of human cases reported on the mainland United States. Two of nine patients quiried remembered a prior tick bite. Since Babesia parasites are known to be vectored only by ticks, we surmise that 12 of these infections were acquired via tick bites; 1 was obtained by blood transfusion (the patient was 46 years of age) from an endemically infected donor. The ages of the patients with tick-acquired babesiosis ranged from 61 to 95 years. Two patients died with active infections, and one patient died from chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease soon after treatment with clindamycin and quinine. Indirect fluorescent-antibody titers of blood samples drawn at the time of hospitalization for 11 patients and at the time of active infection for 1 asymptomatic person ranged from 1:1,024 to 1:4,096. Five of eight patients with babesiosis also had significant immunoglobulin G or immunoglobulin M titers (1:640 to 1:5,120) to Borrelia burgdorferi. B. microti was isolated in Syrian hamsters inoculated with blood from 7 of 12 patients tested and was also isolated from mice captured in six towns. The peridomestic nature of the
disease was demonstrated by isolating the parasite from white-footed mice captured in or near the yards of eight different patients. Of 59 mice tested, 27 were positive and 25 were coinfected with B. burgdorferi. The isolation of B. microti from a white-footed mouse captured in north-central Connecticut (West Hartford), away from the focus of human infections in southeastern Connecticut, suggests that this pathogen may spread into other areas where Ixodes dammini, the tick vector, becomes established.