Man dies after first Australian babesiosis case

The man from the south coast of NSW with no significant history of travel was hospitalised in November 2010 following a car accident and died five months later from multi-organ failure.

Babesia microti
was detected in his blood during treatment and in samples stored before the accident, indicating  the parasite was carried asymptomatically for some time, infectious diseases physicians reported.

The tick-borne zoonosis was first documented in Croatia in 1957 and is lethal in 5–10% of cases.

The patient might have been bitten by a tick contained within clothing or luggage from an endemic country, they said.

“Alternatively, a local tick might have transmitted an autochthonous infection presumably originating from one or more species of introduced rodent,” they wrote.

Clinicians should be alert to symptoms which include haemolytic anaemia, thrombocytopenia, fever and influenza-like illness.