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, unspecific 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 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 with the blood count being normal again. Many imported dogs from the south are subclinically infected 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.

Dog

Babesia canis

B. canis is transmitted by Dermacentor reticulatus 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), focuses in western Germany (Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg). What is often noticed about the French strain is its low antibody production.

Hungarian strain: Distribution: Hungary, Ukraine, 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. In this strain, it is particularly important to achieve pathogen elimination with the treatment in order to counteract further spread of this strain.

 

Babesia vogeli

Distribution: North Africa, the whole Mediterranean area, Southern Europe, France. In Germany, 2 isolates from Dermacentor ticks were discovered in the Berlin metropolitan area and the Elbe valley.

B. vogeli is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus and often only leads to low antibody titres.

 

Babesia gibsoni

Distribution: Asia, USA, Europe (imported)

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.

Cat

Babesia canis

Distribution: Thailand, Brazil, France, Poland, Germany

 

Babesia felis

Distribution: in parts of Africa

 

Babesia cati

Distribution: India

Horse

Babesia caballi and Theileria equi (formerly Babesia equi)

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

Cattle

Babesia divergens

Distribution: in Europe from Finland down to the Mediterranean

 

Babesia major

Distribution: Central Europe in small endemic areas

 

Babesia bigemina

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