Blood smear of a dog infected with Babesia gibsoni. The parasites are visible as basophilic dots inside erythrocytes in this Diff-Quick-stained blood smear.
Canine babesiosis is a worldwide, tick-borne, protozoal hemoparasitic disease caused by hemoprotozoan parasites of the genus Babesia. The two predominant species capable of naturally infecting dogs are Babesia (B.) canis and B. gibsoni. Both organisms have Ixodid tick vectors and are found throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and
Canine babesiosis is characterized by varying degrees of hemolytic anemia, splenomegaly, thrombocytopenia, and fever. Cases of canine babesiosis may present with a wide variety of clinical signs, ranging from a hyperacute, shock-associated, hemolytic crisis to an inapparent and subclinical infection. The acute form of babesiosis is characterized by symptoms such as pyrexia, weakness, mucous membrane pallor, depression, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, and general malaise (Boozer and Macintire, 2003).
Classically, babesiosis has been diagnosed by demonstrating intraerythrocytic trophozoites on a blood smear stained by the Giemsa, Romanowsky, Field's, or modified Wright's methods. Other diagnostic tests including fluorescent antibody and ELISA tests are becoming increasingly available to diagnose babesiosis. Serologic diagnosis of babesiosis has certain limitations. A positive test result is dependent on an antibody response by the host, which may take up to ten days to develop, and the antibody remains at a detectable level after full recovery.
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