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General information

Babesiosis in mammals has become one of the most important parasitic diseases. The pathogens, which belong to the order Piroplasmida, are transmitted by ticks.

In peracute or acute infections, non-specific clinical signs such as fever, apathy and loss of appetite appear between the 5th and 28th day p. i. Anaemia, icterus and massive haemoglobinuria occur. A chronic infection, especially with B. vulpes (= B. microti-like = B. annae), is characterised by fatigue and emaciation of the animals over months, anaemia and intermittent periods of fever.

Without treatment, dogs can also develop a subclinical form, especially when infected with B. canis and B. vogeli, with the blood count being normal again. Many imported dogs from Eastern Europe are subclinically infected wirh B. canis and thus pose a risk of infection for other dogs. In addition, the infection can be reactivated in these dogs by various factors. Cattle and horses can also remain carriers of Babesia for many years.


Babesia canis

B. canis is transmitted by Dermacentor reticulatus (ornate dog tick) and is more virulent than B. vogeli. A distinction is made between the French and the Hungarian strain.

French strain: Distribution: north and east Mediterranean area, locally in Holland (The Hague, Arnhem) and England, focuses in western Germany (Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg). What is often noticed about the French strain is its low antibody production.

Hungarian strain: Distribution: Hungary, Ukraine, Russia (beyond the north of Moscow), Romania, eastern Germany.

What is often noticed about the Hungarian strain is its high antibody production. In 80% of the animals, new infections with the Hungarian strain lead to death if untreated.

Babesia vogeli

Distribution: North Africa, the whole Mediterranean area, Portugal.

B. vogeli is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus (brown dog tick) and often only leads to low antibody titres. 

Babesia gibsoni

Distribution: Asia, USA, Europe (imported)

Transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus, distribution in Europe is considered questionable. The cases of Babesia gibsoni described for Portugal and Spain were corrected later, partly into the pathogen Theileria annae (now: B. vulpes).

Babesia vulpes (formerly Babesia microti-like, B. annae)
Distribution: north west Spain, Central Europa including England
Vector unknown, assumed are: Ixodes hexagonus (hedgehog tick), I. ricinus (European castor bean tick), I. canisuga (dog tick) und Dermacentor reticulatus (ornate dog tick).


Babesia canis
Occurrence: Thailand, Brazil, France, Poland, Germany
Very rare, only known in combination with other chronic underlying disease.

Babesia felis
Occurrence: in parts of Africa

Babesia cati
Occurrence: India


Babesia caballi and Theileria equi (formerly Babesia equi)

Distribution: from the tropics and subtropics to the temperate zones. Ticks are vectors. Equine babesiosis (piroplasmosis) is also expected to occur in Germany.


Babesia divergens

Distribution: in Europe from Finland down to the Mediterranean

Vectors are Ixodes ricinus (European castor bean tick) and Ixodes persulcatus (taiga tick). Babesia divergens is also pathogenic to humans.

Babesia major

Distribution: Central Europe in small endemic areas.In Germany, only on the North Sea islands Amrum, Norderney and Juist.

Haemaphysalis punctata (red sheep tick) is the vector.

Babesia bigemina

Distribution: tropics and subtropics; in Europe: the Balkans, coastal areas in the Mediterranean, Portugal.