Transfusion transmitted babesiosis: A systematic review of reported cases

Transfus Apher Sci. 2020 Oct;59(5):102843 doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2020.102843.

Transfusion transmitted babesiosis (TTB) has a high mortality rate but may go unrecognized, particularly in non-endemic areas. We therefore conducted a systematic review to better characterize clinical aspects of TTB.


A literature search was conducted in PubMed and CINAHL databases, from which 25 eligible articles describing 60 TTB patients met criteria for data extraction.


Symptom evaluation was provided for 25 implicated donors: 18/25 (72%) were asymptomatic while 7/25 (28%) had mild flu-like symptoms but were asymptomatic at time of donation. It was common for a single donor or donation to infect multiple patients. Where reported, species included B. microti - 54/60 (90%), B. duncani - 3/60 (5%), and B. divergens-like/MO-1 - 1/60 (2%). Most TTB patients (44/60, 73%) resided in endemic states, while most TTB deaths 6/9 (67%) occurred in non-endemic states. Severity of hemolysis was proportional to degree of parasitemia. Mortality in our series was 9/60 (15%); most deaths occurred at extremes of the age spectrum: 6/9 non-survivors were aged >55 years, 2/9 were <1 year, only 1/9 was 2-54 years. Number of comorbidities was higher among non-survivors (median = 4) compared to survivors (median = 1).


All implicated donors (for which symptoms data were reported) resulting in TTB infections were asymptomatic at the time of donation, and it was common for a single donor or donation to infect multiple patients. Mortality of TTB appeared highest among those with more comorbidities and in non-endemic states. Heightened awareness of this diagnosis is key in its recognition.

KEYWORDS: Babesia; Pathogen reduction; Transfusion transmitted babesiosis
MESH HEADINGS: Babesiosis; Female; Humans; Male; Survival Analysis; Transfusion Reaction
Study Details
Study Design: Systematic Review
Language: eng
Credits: Bibliographic data from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine