History

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Possibly the first reference to Babesiosis is in the book of Exodus, which alludes to a plague of “murrain,” which affected cattle, camels, sheep and other domestic animals (9). Centuries later in 1888, the Babesia protozoan was identified by Romanian Biologist Victor Babes, who isolated the parasite from cattle with febrile hemoglobinuria. In 1893, Smith and Kilbourne linked Babesia with its vector, the tick, and found that Texas cattle fever was actually caused by this blood parasite.

For a long time, babesiosis was considered an animal disease, until 1957 when a Yugoslavian cattle farmer contracted babesiosis. The first occurrence of babesiosis in the United States was in 1969, when an outbreak was reported in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Since then, there have been around 300 cases of babesiosis reported in the U.S., mainly in the Northeast but also in the Midwest and Northwest regions of the nation (3).