Babesia negevi infection in dogs and response to treatment

Harold Salant*, Yaarit Nachum-Biala, Doni Zivotofsky, Tsachi Even Tzur, Gad Baneth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Canine babesiosis is an important protozoan tick-borne disease associated with anemia and thrombocytopenia and caused by several different Babesia spp. Babesia negevi was first reported to infect dogs in the Middle East in 2020. This study describes the presentation, clinical signs, parasitemia levels quantified by molecular techniques, laboratory findings and treatment of dogs infected with B. negevi following the first description of this species. Clinical findings in the infected dogs, a 3-year old female and two 8-week old male and female pups, included extreme lethargy and pale mucous membranes, anemia and thrombocytopenia found in all three animals. Fever was present in the older female and icterus in the female pup. Babesia parasites resembling B. negevi were detected by microscopy of blood smears from the dogs. PCR of blood targeting the 18S rRNA and cox1 genes confirmed that babesiosis was caused by B. negevi and PCR targeting the Borrelia flagellin gene indicated co-infection with Borrelia persica in two dogs. Treatment of the dogs with imidocarb dipropionate resulted in clinical improvement and initial decrease in the B. negevi parasite load as detected by quantitative PCR in two dogs, however the female pup continued to deteriorate and died. The parasite load in the 3-year old female decreased from 43,451 parasites/µl blood pre-imidocarb dipropionate treatment to 803 parasites/µl within two weeks. In the surviving pup, it decreased from 3,293,538 parasites/µl pre-treatment to 20,092 parasites/µl after two weeks. Babesia negevi DNA was still recovered from blood samples by PCR despite repeated treatment with imidocarb dipropionate one-month post-treatment in the surviving pup and up to seven months post-treatment in the 3-year old female. Only treatment with atovaquone and azithromycin for ten days eliminated B. negevi in both dogs as confirmed by negative PCR two weeks later. In conclusion, treatment with imidocarb dipropionate was helpful for recovery from clinical disease but did not facilitate parasite elimination, and it is therefore recommended to treat canine B. negevi infection with the combination of atovaquone and azithromycin.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number102282
JournalTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • 18S rRNA
  • Atovaquone
  • Azithromycin
  • Imidocarb dipropionate
  • Mitochondrial cox1

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