Endemic Babesiosis in Another Eastern State: New Jersey

Barbara L. Herwaldt, Paul C. McGovern, Michal P. Gerwel, Rachael M. Easton, Rob Roy MacGregor

Disclosures

Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2003;9(2) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

In the United States, most reported cases of babesiosis have been caused by Babesia microti and acquired in the northeast. Although three cases of babesiosis acquired in New Jersey were recently described by others, babesiosis has not been widely known to be endemic in New Jersey. We describe a case of babesiosis acquired in New Jersey in 1999 in an otherwise healthy 53-year-old woman who developed life-threatening disease. We also provide composite data on 40 cases of babesiosis acquired from 1993 through 2001 in New Jersey. The 40 cases include the one we describe, the three cases previously described, and 36 other cases reported to public health agencies. The 40 cases were acquired in eight (38.1%) of the 21 counties in the state. Babesiosis, a potentially serious zoonosis, is endemic in New Jersey and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients with fever and hemolytic anemia, particularly in the spring, summer, and early fall.

In the United States, most of the hundreds of reported cases of babesiosis have been caused by Babesia microti, a parasite of small mammals transmitted by Ixodes scapularis (deer ticks); these ticks also transmit Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma (Ehrlichia) phagocytophila. Most reported cases of babesiosis have been acquired in the northeast, specifically in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Another focus of B. microti infection is in Wisconsin and Minnesota.[1]

Although three cases of babesiosis acquired in New Jersey in 1998 were described by Eskow et al.,[2] babesiosis has not been widely known to be endemic in New Jersey. Of interest, the index case-patient who acquired B. microti infection in the northeast (on Nantucket Island in 1969) actually was hospitalized in New Jersey.[3] We describe a case of babesiosis acquired in New Jersey in 1999 and provide composite data that include this case, the three cases previously reported by Eskow et al.,[2] and 36 other cases acquired in New Jersey from 1993 through 2001. Our data strengthen the conclusion that babesiosis is endemic in New Jersey.

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