Babesiosis spreads in Rhode Island

01 August 2011 14:15

Rhode Island is seeing an increase in the number of cases of Babesiosis, an infection caused by a parasite transmitted by deer ticks

Rhode Island is seeing an increase in the number of cases of Babesiosis, an infection caused by a parasite transmitted by deer ticks

Britons travelling to Rhode Island should be aware of the outbreak of a little-known tick-born infection, called Babesiosis, in the US state.

Babesiosis is a malaria-like illness caused by infection with Babesia microti, a parasite that lives in red blood cells and is carried by deer ticks.

Babesiosis infections can lead to moderate flu-like symptoms. But for the elderly and for those who have a weak immune system, the outcome can turn out to be a lot worse.

State health records reveal an increase in the number of babesiosis cases reported in Rhode Island.

Holidaymakers should make sure that they have taken out a good medical travel insurance policy before going to Rhode Island.

Thomas Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island's Center for Vector-Borne Disease, said 15 years ago, less than one babesiosis case was recorded each year in the state.

However, the figure rose to 89 in 2009.

Last year, 76 babesiosis cases were reported in Rhode Island.

Mr Mather said: "We're diagnosing enough cases every year that we should be paying a lot more attention to it.''

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