GlossaryCommonly Used Terms in Blood Banking
Babesia is a tick-transmitted protozoan currently an entity of major concern in the transfusion community as a result of the organism’s ready transmission through transfusion. B. microti and B. duncani (the two main species in the U.S.) are transmitted from mice to humans by the tick species Ixodes. Like malaria, babesiosis is primarily an infection of red blood cells. Babesia has a LONG asymptomatic incubation period during which the organism can theoretically be transmitted through transfusion, AND, a test for Babesia infection is currently not required in the United States. Over 80 cases of transfusion transmission have been documented. Unfortunately, infection in immunocompromised blood recipients can have devastating consequences. Most Babesia infections are seen in a fairly geographically limited area in the U.S., however (specifically, “…in the Northeast and upper Midwest, especially in parts of New England, New York state, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Minnesota” per the CDC). To reduce risk, investigational blood screening is currently being done for many donors in those high-risk areas.
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