, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1057–1072 | Cite as

Human Babesiosis in Europe: what clinicians need to know

  • A. HildebrandtEmail author
  • J. S. Gray
  • K.-P. Hunfeld


Although best known as an animal disease, human babesiosis is attracting increasing attention as a worldwide emerging zoonosis. Humans are commonly infected by the bite of ixodid ticks. Rare ways of transmission are transplacental, perinatal and transfusion-associated. Infection of the human host can cause a very severe host-mediated pathology including fever, and hemolysis leading to anemia, hyperbilirubinuria, hemoglobinuria and possible organ failure. In recent years, apparently owing to increased medical awareness and better diagnostic methods, the number of reported cases in humans is rising steadily worldwide. Hitherto unknown zoonotic Babesia spp. are now being reported from geographic areas where babesiosis was not previously known to occur and the growing numbers of travelers and immunocompromised individuals suggest that the frequency of cases in Europe will also continue to rise. Our review is intended to provide clinicians with practical information on the clinical management of this rare, but potentially life-threatening zoonotic disease. It covers epidemiology, phylogeny, diagnostics and treatment of human babesiosis and the potential risk of transfusion-transmitted disease with a special focus on the European situation.


Babesia Ticks Zoonosis Europe Phylogeny Human disease Blood transfusion IFAT PCR Diagnostics Treatment Prevention 


Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical University Laboratories, Institute of Medical MicrobiologyFriedrich-Schiller-University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.UCD School of Biology and Environmental ScienceUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Microbiology and Infection ControlNorthwest Medical CentreFrankfurt/MainGermany

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