Human babesiosis, caused by parasitic protozoa of erythrocytes, has escaped usual associates--lower mammals. Thriving in tick guts, it has spread inland from the coasts of America, adopting mankind as a host. Babesia spp. threaten life quality of unsuspecting humans in quickly expanding territories worldwide, including the state of Pennsylvania, USA. The causative spirochetes of Lyme disease often similarly co-exist in ticks. Singly or together they may, by causing persistent and chronic infections, duplicate any symptom in the medical literature--including depression and hypochondriasis. Physicians practicing throughout Pennsylvania have identified patients with symptomatic babesiosis, but without governmental surveillance or health registries that require doctors to consider and report babesiosis, these cases have not prompted epidemiological concern. Misunderstandings such as, "Isn't that an obscure tropical disease?" are usual responses when doctors are asked about babesiosis, inadvertently trivializing patients and disease. Mandatory reporting of babesiosis should now be considered a medical necessity.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.