Preliminary assessment of the prevalence of antibodies to Babesia spp. in a group occupationally exposed to tick bites in Poland
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Instytut Medycyny Wsi, Lublin, Polska
Anna Kloc   

Instytut Medycyny Wsi im. Witolda Chodźki w Lublinie, Jaczewskiego 2, 20-090, Lublin, Polska
Introduction and objective:
Protozoan parasites of the genus Babesia, mainly Babesia microti, are the etiologic factor of human babesiosis, which is one of the emerging diseases. In Poland, the main vector of Babesia spp. are ticks of the species Ixodes ricinus.The aim of the study was to detect specific antibodies to human babesiosis in people who are particularly exposed to tick bites due to their profession.

Material and methods:
The material for the study was a group of 413 participants of the public health project under the National Health Programme. Participants were tested over 2 years – 203 in 2019, and 210 in 2020. The level of specific IgG antibodies against human babesiosis in blood serum of participants was determined by means of an indirect immunofluorescence test (IFA) using commercial diagnostic kits.

In the group of 413 study participants, 3 cases were found over 2 years (0.73%), in whom the presence of antibodies against babesiosis was detected at the level of the lowest titre of IgG antibodies of 64. In 2019, 2 cases were detected, representing 0.99% of those surveyed, and in 2020, 1 case representing 0.48%.

In Poland, the results of studies of occupational groups especially exposed to tick bites indicate that babesiosis is not a significant problem in the group of tick-borne diseases. This is evidenced by the results of serological tests, where the presence of antibodies against babesiosis was found at the lowest titre of 64, at a total level of 0.73% over 2 years. This also indicates the potential for infection with protozoa of the genus Babesia and contracting babesiosis, as shown by the results of other studies conducted in Poland, where significantly higher prevalence rates were obtained.

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