Apicomplexan parasites of the genus Babesia cause babesiosis in humans and animals. The microscopic examination of stained blood smears, detection of serum antibodies by immunoassays, and PCR-based identification of parasite nucleic acid in blood are common laboratory methods for diagnosing babesiosis. The present study evaluated a commercially available Babesia genus-specific fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test for detecting Babesia parasites in blood smears. The FISH test detected Babesia duncani and Babesia microti, two common species that cause human infections in the USA, and other Babesia species of human and veterinary importance in less than two hours. The Babesia genus-specific FISH test supplements other existing laboratory methods for diagnosing babesiosis and may be particularly useful in resource-limited laboratories.
Keywords: Babesia; FISH; babesiosis; fluorescence in situ hybridization; laboratory diagnosis of babesiosis.