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

At Cabinet Veterinaire International, we have seen the significant effects of Babesia and the disease it causes, Piroplasmosis. Borne by a tiny tick, this infection is one that if left untreated, can grow to become complex, nearly impossible to treat, and threatening to life.

As a dog owner, we know that you want the best for your best friend, and that’s why we want to take the time to ensure you know all you need to know about Piroplasmosis and the parasite known as Babesia.

Babesia’s Life Cycle: When these single-cell parasites are introduced into a dog’s bloodstream, they quickly take up residence in the dog’s red blood cells. Like many protozoa, they then reproduce by splitting, again and again, until each blood cell is bursting with the parasite. Once the blood cell finally ruptures, the newly created Babesia spread out and continue to infect healthy red blood cells, divide, and conquer more and more of the dog’s healthy cells.

Contracting Babesia: Science has recognized more than 100 species of Babesia, but fortunately, only a few of them infect canines. There are a number of ways that dogs can contract and incubate these nasty little protozoans.

If a dog is ill, and in need of a transfusion, he or she might receive blood from a dog that is harboring Babesia (This is why donors should be screened before donating blood.). Even if the donor is not displaying Piroplasmosis symptoms, he or she could be a non-symptomatic carrier; however, the recipient can develop full-blown Piroplasmosis and pass Babesia on to other dogs.

Humans are not susceptible to the B. gibsoni or B. canis vogeli strains of Babesia, meaning that even if a human is bitten or scratched by an infected canine – or if blood-to-blood contact is made with an infected dog – that person will not harbor Babesia or develop a Piroplasmosis infection. Nonetheless, if two dogs share blood during a fight or by accidental contact, the Babesia can and will move from one canine to the other.

Because puppies that are less than one week old have been shown to harbor Babesia, it is believed than an infected mother can pass the parasite along to her unborn offspring. For this reason, it is imperative that dams be tested for the parasite before any breeding occurs.

And finally, there’s the most notorious method of Babesia transference: the tick. These tiny arachnids may look harmless, but if one feeds on the blood of a canine infected with Babesia, the tick takes on the parasite and then proceeds to pass it on to its next canine host.