Two new cases of Babesia canis have been confirmed in untravelled UK dogs, lending weight to predictions from leading parasitologists the disease could spread this autumn and next spring.

Ticks feeding
Dermacentor reticulatus ticks feeding (male: yellow arrow, female: red arrow). For more information on Babesia, read Tackle Ticks: Babesiosis by Simon Tappin. Image: Merial.

The first recorded cluster of infection in non-travelled UK dogs was confirmed by the APHA last spring. Five cases were all traced back to a small area popular with dog walkers in Harlow, Essex.

Subsequent testing identified the presence of the tick Dermacentor reticulatus acting as vectors of the introduced pathogen Babesia canis.

Now, two fresh cases have emerged at the same practice in Romford, Essex.

Aware of symptoms

Kelly Smyth, manager of the Best Friends Veterinary Group practice in Romford, said two vets – Melina Mihaylova, originally from Bulgaria, and Alina Ancuta, from Romania – attended to the Labrador retriever. Both were aware of the symptoms and dangers of Babesia as it is endemic in their native countries.

Although initial blood tests were negative, the owners were advised to keep a close eye on the dog and return if its condition deteriorated. Two weeks later, the dog was back with lethargy, fever, refusing food and vomiting.

Fresh blood tests were positive for babesiosis and the animal was referred to the RVC’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals.

‘Textbook symptoms’

Dr Mihaylova explained they saw Babesia cases “quite often” in Bulgaria and it was routine in their clinics to conduct blood tests on animals bitten by ticks.

She said: “Babesia is a very common problem back at home and during my training – which wasn’t long ago – we had specific lessons to be able to expect and identify it. When I came to the UK, I didn’t expect it here, but I heard the media reports earlier this year, so knew it was possible when the dog presented with textbook symptoms.”

In the other case, a Labrador retriever, believed to be 12 years old, was dead on arrival at the Romford clinic. Dr Ancuta said ticks were found on the animal and blood samples were taken. Those samples subsequently tested positive for Babesia.

Parasitologist Ian Wright, head of the European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites UK and Ireland, predicted to Veterinary Times earlier this year further cases were likely this autumn, as well as next spring.

  • Further reaction can be found in the 31 October issue of Veterinary Times.
View your activity >

Leave a Reply

1 Comment on "Babesia spread fear after two new canine cases confirmed"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Rajdeep
Guest
2 months 18 days ago

Hi , I too lost my pug because of this virus … blood test confirmed it to positive.

wpDiscuz

related content

A leading authority on Schmallenberg virus is warning farm vets to be prepared for the possibility of a springtime spike in cases of abnormal births and deformities in sheep and cattle.

4 mins

Kelly Bowlt Blacklock looks at studies on companion animal wound care, focusing on emerging techniques (part 1/2).

12 mins

RVN Emma Gerrard looks at the common endocrinopathies that present in practice and how nurses can involve their clients in helping to manage these conditions.

27 mins

SVN Simon Johnson discusses the preconceptions he faces as a man in a predominately female profession and how this can be addressed in the future.

18 mins

Hany Elsheikha and Alexander Beech describe an investigation of suspected parasitic infestation in a private fishery and approaches to gathering findings.

34 mins

CVS Group has appointed Belinda Andrews-Jones to its newly created role of director of nursing. Dan Curtis of Pet Medic Recruitment speaks with her about this and her career to date.

16 mins