First record of locally acquired human babesiosis in Canada caused by Babesia duncani: a case report

First Published August 29, 2017

John D Scott


Objectives: The aim of this clinical assessment was to ascertain whether a 70-year-old Canadian patient, who had no history of out-of-country travel, had contracted a Babesia infection.

Methods: The adult human male developed constitutional symptoms, which included sweats, chills, and immobilizing fatigue, and was screened for human babesiosis. Subsequent testing included a complete Babesia panel that consisted of B. microti immunoflourescent antibody IgM and IgG, B. duncani immunofluorescent antibody IgM and IgG, Babesia PCR, and Babesia fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) test.

Results: Both the IgM serology and the molecular FISH RNA probe were positive for B. duncani; all tests for B. microti were negative. Based on clinical symptoms and laboratory tests, the patient was diagnosed with human babesiosis. Interestingly, the patient’s wife also was confirmed positive using serological and molecular testing.

Conclusions: This is the first report of a locally acquired case of human babesiosis in Canada caused by Babesia duncani. The geographical distribution of B. duncani in North America is much greater than previously anticipated, especially north of the Canada-United States border. Since the patient was bitten by a blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, a carrier of multiple zoonotic pathogens, the author suggests that this tick species is a vector of B. duncani. Health-care providers must be aware that B. duncani is present in Canada, and poses a public health risk.

Human babesiosis, Babesia duncani, case presentation, parasitemia, babesial piroplasm, Canada

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  1. My father had worked his way all across Canada as a farmhand after landing on the Eastern Canadian coast from The Netherlands for about three years before he came to UBC. He received his forestry degree from UBC in 1959. He worked all over Alberta and BC since receiving his degree. In 1989, he suffered a month-long hospitalization for haemolytic anemia, during which he almost died. They told me that this was a stress-induced illness caused from being very cruelly fired from a top position with CanFor, where he worked as one of the top foresters in fort St. James. His haemoglobin went down to 29, which amazed all the doctors and nurses who were aware of this in Royal Columbian Hospital. At age 65, he died of a brain astrocytoma in 1997. His cause of death was listed as cancer, not LD. After his death, I looked up Babesiosis symptoms in Taber’s Medical Dictionary. He had every single symptom listed.
    With his wife, who died of undiagnosed LD (abdominal cancer), he produced two children, one of whom was born with congenital LD.

  2. I live in Grimsby, Ontario Canada and was diagnosed with Babasia through a DNA test in September 2017. I’ve been fighting these symptoms since July 1998. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in June 2015. I still question which symptoms are which disease or if I do have M.S. My first symptoms were the horrible sweats…chills…fatigue . I had my youngest of 5 children in September of 1997…I knew it couldn’t be peri menopause. My G.P. Looks at me as a hypochondriac ! I went from so mega healthy…fitness competitor…never complaining of ill health to constant concerns. Scheduled for my first appointment with a Lyme literate Doctor in Toronto Jan 11th. It’s been a nightmare trying to find medical help. My new GP and Nerologist dismissed it as a non disease. Offering no help….my go saidhe could just prescribe symptom relief meds….but expressed that the medical field doesn’t truly support the belief of Lyme or its co infections.
    It’s still frustrating I could scream.

  3. Where did you get the DNA testing done? I understand your frustration! I had the bullseye rash, but did not get treatment or a ‘Lyme’ diagnosis. Since then my health has gone downhill with multiple problems and symptoms. My doctor does not believe in chronic lyme and says it does not stay in your system….. “probably just fibromyalgia” I was given Lyrica which made me feel worse, and antidepressants, and meds for sleep and for pain. My balance is getting worse and I now get ‘electric shock sensations down my legs, with numbness and weakness. I am now going to a Naturopath who believes I may have the co-infection Babesia from the tick bite. I can’t afford the expensive testing that is done in the US and is not 100% accurate. I am going to try taking drops from the ND that is supposed to help with Babesia. This is all very scary…..

  4. Hi Sheila
    I was in California having two surgeries for my Lipedema condition. I mentioned my symptoms to a Naturalpathic Doctor working in my surgeons office. She agreed they sounded like Lyme. She Provided me with a DNA kit. DNA CONNECTIONS, 4685 Centennial Blvd, Colorado Springs, Co.
    It diagnosed the Babesia. Further tests her in Ontario, Canada showed Chronic Lyme as well.

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