BabH: monitoring human Babesiosis in France and characterization of the responsible agents

Human Babesiosis: a One Health approach, working in collaboration with the medical community

Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by the development of parasites of the genus Babesia in red blood cells1. Frequent and of moderate severity in the USA, symptomatic babesiosis is rare in Europe, but fatal in immuno-compromised individuals2. Humans are an "accidental" host and zoonotic species have domestic animals (cattle) or wild animals (micro-mammals, deer) as natural hosts3,4. As a research laboratory working on these species and their epidemiology for more than 20 years, we maintain a watch on humans in order to refine diagnostic methods and knowledge on these zoonotic agents5, but also to detect the emergence or establishment of newly introduced species.
Our work shows a high seroprevalence in humans, indicating frequent exposure to the parasite, but the actual presence of Babesia (molecular detection or isolation in in vitro culture) remains rare. In most cases, immuno-competent humans are able to eliminate it naturally. Rare cases of often asymptomatic carriage exist, and only B. divergens, a species of bovine origin, has been detected.
We occasionally collaborate with the hospital environment when analyses for patients suspected of babesiosis are sent to us. We are in the process of characterizing at the molecular level a new species of zoonotic Babesia of group B. divergens6.

1 Jalovecka M, Hajdusek O, Sojka D, Kopacek P, Malandrin L. 2018. The Complexity of Piroplasms Life Cycles. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2018 8:248.

2 Lempereur L, Shiels B, Heyman P, Moreau E, Saegerman C, Losson B, Malandrin L. 2015. A retrospective serological survey on human babesiosis in Belgium. Clin Microbiol Infect. 21(1):96.e1-7.

3 Becker CA, Bouju-Albert A, Jouglin M, Chauvin A, Malandrin L. 2009. Natural transmission of zoonotic Babesia spp. by Ixodes ricinus ticks. Emerg Infect Dis. 15(2):320-2.

4 Jouglin M, Perez G, Butet A, Malandrin L, Bastian S. 2017. Low prevalence of zoonotic Babesia in small mammals and Ixodes ricinus in Brittany, France. Vet Parasitol. 2017 Apr 30;238:58-60.

5 Jouglin M., Bastian S., Abou-Bacar A., Ermanno C. De Briel D. Chauvin A. Malandrin L. , 2010. Babésiose humaine clinique et asymptomatique : intérêt et faisabilité d'une veille sanitaire. REID, 18-19 Nov 2010.

6 Martinot et al., 2011. Babesiosis in Immunocompetent Patients, Europe. Emerg. Inf. Dis. 17:114-116.

Contact person :

Publications :

de Carné MC, Moussel F, Laurichesse JJ, Malandrin L, Perronne V. Human Babesiosis: report of a rare case. IDcases soumis.

Paleau A, Candolfi E, Souply L, De Briel D, Delarbre JM, Lipsker D, Jouglin M, Malandrin L, Hansmann Y, Martinot M. 2019. Human babesiosis in Alsace: a retrospective study (2005-2015). Med Mal Infect. Sep 20. pii: S0399-077X(18)30611-5. doi: 10.1016/j.medmal.2019.08.007.

Jouglin M., De La Cotte Nathalie, Bonsergent C., Bastian S., Malandrin L. 2018. La Babésiose humaine : bilan de 10 ans d'analyses. Med Mal Infect. 48:S112-S113. DOI 10.1016/j.medmal.2018.04.284.

Martinot M., Paleau A., Greigert V., Brunet J., Hansmann Y., Jouglin M., Souply L., Jaulhac B., De Briel D., Candolfi E. 2018. Babésiose en France et en Europe : une pathologie à redéfinir. Med Mal Infect. 48:S112. DOI 10.1016/j.medmal.2018.04.284.

International Colloquium

Bonsergent C., de la Cotte N., Jouglin M., de Carné MC., Perronne V., Malandrin L. 2019.
Human babesiosis : molecular characterization of a new etiological agent in the “B. divergens species complex”. International Symposium on Tick-borne pathogens and disease (ITPD), 8-11 Septembre 2019, Vienne, Autriche.

International Colloquium

Modification date : 11 September 2023 | Publication date : 15 May 2020 | Redactor : AC