Babesia Piroplasmosis | Cabinet Veterinaire International

Piroplasmosis Infections and Babesia in Dogs
Humans cannot contract Babesia from a dog
Piroplasmosis in Humans

Piroplasmosis Infections and Babesia in Dogs

In an effort to raise awareness about Babesia and Piroplasmosis (a blood-borne parasite and the illness it causes, respectively), Cabinet Veterinaire International would like to create a scenario involving Sammy, a 4-year-old wire-haired terrier, who has been stricken with some puzzling symptoms.

Over the course of the past year, Sammy’s owners had found a few ticks imbedded in his skin. They were busy people and sometimes forgot to examine his coat every day; therefore, two ticks had the opportunity to gorge on Sammy’s blood. His owners pulled each tick straight out of his flesh using a sterilized tweezers and then cleaned the bite area. They preserved each tick in a jar of rubbing alcohol, labeled with the date that each one had been removed. They observed each bite to make sure that no swelling or rashes developed and closely scrutinized their dog’s behavior to ensure that no strange symptoms arose.

Sammy’s owners thought they did everything right – and they almost did. That’s probably why, 6 months later, when Sammy developed a fever, stopped eating, refused to go on his daily walk, and became weaker by the hour, his owners never thought to blame one of those ticks, which had been long-forgotten anyway.

Sammy’s veterinarian was bewildered by the dog’s symptoms. She ran a number of tests, none of which provided a definitive answer. In the meantime, Sammy’s symptoms were multiplying. They now included darkened urine, jaundice, anemia, enlargement of the spleen, seizures, shock, muscle tremors and ear twitching, limping and intensified weakness, low platelet count and blood pressure, diminished sight, and an immune system that had shifted into overdrive. By the time the veterinarian decided to test for Piroplasmosis, Sammy had slipped into a coma. He died soon after. Post-mortem testing confirmed the presence of Babesia.

Babesia can also cause the dysfunction of one or multiple organs; hypersensitivity of the head, mouth, legs and/or back; breathing problems; bleeding, deterioration, and/or death of muscle; sciatic nerve neuropathy; elevated proteins; unexplained skin rashes or irritations; difficulty in digesting food; a high globulin count; and the inability to control the bladder. Many animal doctors will use the presence of dark urine to determine the need for Piroplasmosis testing; however, in the experience of Cabinet Veterinaire International, we know that this is not always a reliable indicator. In our last 29 documented cases of Piroplasmosis, only 1 of those patients had urine that was darker than normal.