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Trop Med Int Health. 2003 Aug;8(8):760-4.

A fatal case of human babesiosis in Portugal: molecular and phylogenetic analysis.

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Centro de Malária e Outras Doenças Tropicais, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal.


We report the first case of human babesiosis in Portugal. A 66-year-old splenectomized man was admitted to a Lisbon hospital after 1 week of fever, abdominal pain, anorexia and nausea. A high parasitaemia (30%) of Babesia parasites was found in Giemsa-stained blood smears and, despite treatment, the patient died several weeks later of renal failure. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid blood samples were processed for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse line blot hybridization to confirm and characterize the Babesia infection. The amplified PCR product was cloned and subsequently sequenced. Molecular analysis showed that the infection was caused by Babesia divergens and that other blood parasites were not involved. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the 18 S ribosomal RNA gene sequence was similar to three other European isolates of B. divergens. In view of the high risk for splenectomized individuals, strict measures should be taken to avoid tick bites.

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