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Free Content A fatal case of human babesiosis in Portugal: molecular and phylogenetic analysis

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We report the first case of human babesiosis in Portugal. A 66-year-old splenectomized man was admitted to a Lisbon hospital after 1 week of fever, abdominal pain, anorexia and nausea. A high parasitaemia (30%) of Babesia parasites was found in Giemsa-stained blood smears and, despite treatment, the patient died several weeks later of renal failure. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid blood samples were processed for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse line blot hybridization to confirm and characterize the Babesia infection. The amplified PCR product was cloned and subsequently sequenced. Molecular analysis showed that the infection was caused by Babesia divergens and that other blood parasites were not involved. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the 18 S ribosomal RNA gene sequence was similar to three other European isolates of B. divergens. In view of the high risk for splenectomized individuals, strict measures should be taken to avoid tick bites.

Keywords: 18SSU rRNA; Babesia divergens; reverse line blot; splenectomy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centro de Malária e Outras Doenças Tropicais, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal 2: Unidade de Virologia, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal 3: Clínica Europa, Carcavelos, Portugal 4: Clínica Médica Internacional de Lisboa, Portugal 5: Department of Parasitology & Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Publication date: August 1, 2003


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