Background: Babesiosis, a zoonotic parasitic infection transmitted by the Ixodes tick, has become an emerging health problem in the human host that is attracting attention worldwide. Most cases of human babesiosis are reported in the United States and Europe. The disease is caused by the protozoa of the genus Babesia, which invade human erythrocytes and lyse them causing a febrile hemolytic anemia. The infection is usually asymptomatic or self-limited in the immunocompetent host, or follows a persistent, relapsing, and/or life threatening course with multi-organ failure, mainly in the splenectomized or immunosuppressed patients. Hematologic manifestations of the disease are common. They can range from mild anemia, to severe pancytopenia, splenic ruture, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC), or even hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).
Case presentation: A 70-year-old immunocompetent female patient living in New York City presented with a persistent fever, night sweats, and fatigue of five days duration. Full evaluation showed a febrile hemolytic anemia along with neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. Blood smear revealed intraerythrocytic Babesia, which was confirmed by PCR. Bone marrow biopsy was remarkable for dyserythropoiesis, suggesting possible HLH, supported by other blood workup meeting HLH-2004 trial criteria.
Conclusion: Human babesiosis is an increasing healthcare problem in the United States that is being diagnosed more often nowadays. We presented a case of HLH triggered by Babesia microti that was treated successfully. Also, we presented the hematologic manifestations of this disease along with their pathophysiologies.
Tamer Akel and Neville Mobarakai
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