Canine hepatozoonosis is a disease caused by the tick-borne protozoan Hepatozoon canis. Five puppies were inoculated by ingestion of Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks experimentally infected with H. canis, and all became infected with H. canis: gametocytes were detected in blood smears from four dogs and schizonts were observed in the spleen and bone marrow of the fifth. Antibodies reactive with H. canis gametocytes were detected by the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFA), with IgM detected initially in all dogs 16 to 39 days post infection (PI) and IgG 22 to 43 days PI. The presence of gametocytes was first observed within peripheral blood neutrophils in Giemsa- stained blood smears between days 28 and 43 PI. Gametocyte-reactive antibodies were detected before the appearance of blood gametocytes in three of the four parasitemic dogs and also in a dog with no observed parasitemia. The detection of serum antibodies prior to the detection of blood gametocytes, or without apparent parasitemia, suggests that antibodies reactive with gametocytes may be formed against earlier forms of the parasite developing in the parenchymal tissues. Sera of dogs experimentally infected with Babesia canis, Babesia gibsoni and Ehrlichia canis exhibited no reactivity when tested with H. canis antigen. Additionally, sera positive for H. canis were not reactive with antigens of Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, Leishmania donovani and E. canis. In conclusion, inoculation of dogs with ticks infected with H. canis results in production of antibodies reactive with peripheral blood gametocytes. Detection of IgG titres would be beneficial for the diagnosis of progressive infections with undetectable parasitemia, for seroprevalence studies, and as an adjunct to IgM titres in early infections.
- Hepatozoon canis
- Immune response-Protozoa