Clinical/serological outcome in humans bitten by Babesia species positive Ixodes ricinus ticks in Sweden and on the Åland Islands

P. Wilhelmsson, M. Lövmar*, Karen Angeliki Krogfelt, H.V. Nielsen, Pia Forsberg, P. E. Lindgren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The risk of contracting babesiosis after a tick bite in Sweden and on the Åland Islands, Finland, is unknown. We investigated clinical and serological outcomes in people bitten by Ixodes ricinus ticks positive for Babesia species. Ticks, blood and questionnaires were obtained from study participants in Sweden and on the Åland Islands. Sixty-five of 2098 (3.1 %) ticks were positive by real-time PCR. Three Babesia species were detected, Babesia microti (n = 33), B. venatorum (n = 27) and B. capreoli (n = 5), the latter species not known to cause human infection. Half (46 %) of the Babesia PCR-positive ticks also contained Borrelia spp. Fifty-three participants bitten by a Babesia PCR-positive tick and a control group bitten by a Babesia PCR-negative tick were tested for B. microti IgG antibodies by IFA. The overall seroprevalence was 4.4 %, but there was no significant difference between the groups. None of the participants seroconverted and no participant with a Babesia PCR-positive tick sought medical care or reported symptoms suggestive of babesiosis. Given the prevalence of Babesia in I. ricinus ticks in southern Sweden and on the Åland Islands, babesiosis should be considered a possible diagnosis in symptomatic residents who seek medical care following tick exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101455
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Volume 11
Issue number4
ISSN1877-959X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2020

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