Tick-borne diseases are frequently seen in tick-inhabited areas. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness. However, patients with co-infections can present with nonspecific symptoms, which can make the diagnosis far more challenging. We present a case of triple infection with babesiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis treated with antibiotics and red blood cell (RBC) exchange (erythrocytapheresis). A 74-year-old, avid female gardener presented with one week of progressive dyspnea, cough with mucoid expectoration, and fatigue. On presentation, she was afebrile, hypotensive, and tachycardic. General examination was significant for altered mental status, dyspnea, pallor, and peripheral edema. Lung examination was remarkable for bibasilar crackles. Pertinent laboratory findings were significant for hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. A peripheral blood smear revealed the presence of intracytoplasmic parasites consistent with Babesia. The patient was started on azithromycin and atovaquone. Doxycycline was added empirically for Lyme disease, which was later confirmed by serology. In addition, Anaplasma titers were also positive. Further investigation revealed that the parasitic load was 9.04%, and RBC exchange (erythrocytapheresis) was performed for severe babesiosis. Repeat laboratory tests demonstrated an inadequate reduction in parasitic load (6.54%), requiring a second round of RBC exchange. Antimicrobials were changed to clindamycin, quinine, and doxycycline for a total of 14 days. There was an improvement in the patient's anemia and thrombocytopenia along with clinical improvement.
Cureus Journal of Medical Science
Cureus. 2019 Feb 13;11(2):e4064