Babesia canis and other tick-borne infections in dogs in Central Poland

Renata Welc-Faleciak, Anna Rodo, Edward Siński, Anna Bajer
Veterinary Parasitology 2009 December 23, 166 (3-4): 191-8
Vector-borne infections constitute increasing health problem in dogs worldwide, including sled dogs, dramatically decreasing the fitness of working dogs and even leading to death. In the period 2006-2008 eighty-two blood samples were collected from eight sled dog kennels in Central Poland. The prevalence of four vector-borne infections (Babesia canis, Bartonella sp., Anaplasma/Ehrlichia and Borrelia burgdorferi) was estimated in 82 sled dogs using PCR and nested PCR for diagnosis and the same methods were used to identify the vector-borne pathogens in 26 dogs presenting at veterinary clinics with symptoms of vector-borne diseases. None of four studied vector-borne pathogens was detected in samples originating from veterinary clinics. Among the remaining 82 dogs B. canis infections were confirmed in three dogs undergoing treatment for babesiosis. The DNA of tick-borne pathogens was also found among 22 (27.8%) of the 79 apparently healthy dogs, including 20 cases of B. canis infection (25.3%), one case of B. burgdorferi s.l. infection and one case of Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection. No evidence of Bartonella spp. and Ehrlichia canis infections were found in this set of samples. Sequencing of a Babesia fragment of 18S rDNA amplified from acute (n=5) and asymptomatic (n=5) cases revealed that all isolates were identical to the Babesia canis canis sequence, originally isolated from Dermacentor reticulatus ticks in Poland. A range of factors was shown to affect the distribution of babesiosis in sled dogs. The data are also discussed in respect to the health risk factors generated by asymptomatic B. canis infections and the efficiency of chemoprophylaxis measures taken by sled dog owners.

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