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Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Sep 14;67(7):1110-1119. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy212.

Human Babesiosis Caused by a Babesia crassa-Like Pathogen: A Case Series.

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State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity, Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, China.
Mudanjiang Forestry Central Hospital, Heilongjiang Province, People's Republic of China.
The Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jinan, China.
Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health and Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.



Human babesiosis is an emerging health problem in China.


Babesia were identified in ticks, sheep, and humans in northeastern China using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by genetic sequencing. We enrolled residents who experienced a viral-like illness after recent tick bite or were healthy residents. We defined a case using the definition for babesiosis developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A Babesia crassa-like agent was identified in Ixodes persulcatus and Haemaphysalis concinna ticks using PCR followed by sequencing. The agent was characterized through phylogenetic analyses of the 18S rRNA gene, the β-tubulin gene, and the internal transcribed spacer region. We tested sheep as a possible reservoir and found that 1.1% were infected with the B. crassa-like agent. We screened 1125 human participants following tick bites using B. crassa-specific PCR and identified 31 confirmed and 27 suspected cases. All the patients were previously healthy except for 1 with an ovarian tumor. Headache (74%), nausea or vomiting (52%), and fever (48%) were the most common clinical manifestations of confirmed cases. Six of 10 cases remained PCR positive for B. crassa-like infection 9 months after initial diagnosis. Asymptomatic infections were detected in 7.5% of 160 local residents.


We identified B. crassa-like infection in people in northeastern China that caused mild to moderate symptoms. The possibility of more severe disease in immunocompromised patients and of transmission through the blood supply due to asymptomatic infections justifies further investigation of this reported infection.


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