Treatment and Prevention
For those with mild symptoms who do not seek treatment, the infection will often resolve itself given enough time (approximately 6 months). Treatment can last from 10 days to 2 months depending on the severity of the disease. The most common treatment given is a combination of quinine (650 mg of salt orally, three times daily) and clinamyacin (600 mg orally, three times daily) for 7-10 days. Other drugs have also been used in treatment with varied results. These medicines include: tetracycline, primaquine, sulfadiazine, pyrimethamine, pentamidine and atovaquone. If a patient is critically ill, chemotherapy may also be used as a treatment (9).
If carefully followed, the most effective method to prevent babesiosis is avoidance of ticks. Deer ticks hide in moist areas and cling to long grasses. When in a region known to be associated with babesiosis or deer ticks (any grassy or wooded area), people should take appropriate precautions:
If a tick is found:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent babesiosis, and neither is the risk great enough to justify the development of a large-scale vaccine. Live and recombinant vaccines exist for cattle but do not protect against any form of Babesia that affects humans (8).
On a community level, the most effective way to combat babesiosis depends on the density of ticks in the area. If there is a large tick problem, acaricide pesticides can be used to control tick population, so long as the ticks do not develop resistance. Community members can also take part in “habitat management” by leading efforts to clear brush in neighborhoods. Education and awareness of ticks can also be helpful (8).
In Mason’s Island, Connecticut, a community-based study using rodent-targeted acaricide to control Ixodes scapularis was carried through. Bait bixes for white-footed mice controlled the development of immature ticks on the mice. Results showed an 84% decrease in the larval tick infestation rate, followed three years later by a 77% reduction in the total I. scapularis adult population, the ticks that carry babesiosis. Results from the trial show a successful community approach to reducing tick borne disease through vector control on resevoir animals (5).