Haemato-biochemical Changes in Natural Cases of Canine Babesiosis
Showkat Ahmad Shah,
Naresh Kumar Sood
Srinivasa Rao Tumati
Incidence of severe anemia due to babesiosis in dogs resulting in death in a short time of illness is on the increase in Punjab, during last few decades due to introduction of exotic breeds like Grey Hound, German shepherd, Doberman, Labrador and others. In the present study the hematological and biochemical changes in blood samples obtained from 4 dogs naturally infected with Babesia were evaluated. The dogs were presented to the Department of Veterinary Clinical Services Complex, GADVASU, Ludhiana from August 2008 to April 2009. The evaluation included Hemoglobin (Hb), Red Blood Cell count (RBC), Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV), Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration (MCHC), leucocyte counts, platelet counts and reticulocyte counts. The serum biochemistry included Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, total protein, albumin, bilirubin, Aspartate amino Transferase (AST), Alanine amino Transferase (ALT), Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP), The hematological findings in most of these dogs were normocytic normochromic anemia and thrombocytopenia. The total and differential leukocyte counts were not specific. Biochemical values were within normal ranges but serum biochemistry varied for each dog. This study indicated that Babesia infection in dogs apparently caused anemia and thrombocytopenia, while other clinical values did not change.
June 07, 2011; Accepted: August 23, 2011;
Published: December 01, 2011
Canine babesiosis caused by tick-borne organisms of the genus Babesia,
is one of the most significant diseases worldwide. The commonly occurring Babesia
species in dogs are the Babesia canis and Babesia gibsoni (Taboada
and Merchant, 1991). The Sero-prevalence of babesiosis in the United States
is higher in adult dogs than in dogs younger than 1 year but the lower prevalence
was noted in kennels where more intensive tick controls were performed (Irwin,
2010). The immunological response plays the most important role in pathogenesis
of canine babesiosis. Babesia initiates a mechanism of Antibody-mediated
cytotoxic destruction of circulating erythrocytes. Autoantibodies are directed
against components of the membranes of infected and uninfected erythrocytes.
This causes intravascular and extravascular hemolysis which leads to anemia
and hemoglobinemia (Pedersen, 1999; Irwin,
2005). The typical clinical sign observed in animals with babesiosis is
hemolytic anemia (Jacobson and Clark, 1994). Parasitemia
results in increased osmotic fragility of erythrocytes (Makinde
and Bobade, 1994) and serum hemolytic factors (Onishi
and Suzuki, 1994). These factors induce hemolysis and subsequent anemia.
Clinical signs of canine babesiosis include: Fever, anorexia, depression, oliguria,
hemoglobinuria, vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, icterus, pale mucous membranes,
splenomegaly and dispnea (Irwin, 2005). Anemia and thrombocytopenia
are the primary hematological abnormalities found in affected dogs (Furlanello
et al., 2005). The most common anemia caused by large form of Babesia
is normocytic and normochromatic. Both regenerative and non-regenerative anemias
have been observed during the course of canine babesiosis (Furlanello
et al., 2005). Considering leucocyte abnormalities most dogs show
neutropenia and lymphopenia (Furlanello et al., 2005).
There are no studies about hematological and biochemical changes in dogs naturally
infected with Babesia in Ludhiana, Punjab, India. In the present study
hematological and biochemical changes in 4 dogs naturally infected with large
form of Babesia (3) and Babesia gibsoni (1) were investigated.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Samples of blood were collected from dogs naturally infected with Babesia
from August 2008 to April 2009. The diagnosis of babesiosis was confirmed by
demonstration of the parasites within the infected erythrocytes in Wright-Giemsa
stained thin blood smears (Matijatko et al., 2007).
In these samples a complete blood count was performed with an automatic hematologic
analyser (Beckman Coulter, Coulter diff Ac. T, USA). Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic
Acid (EDTA) was used as an anticoagulant. The erythrocyte count, concentration
of hemoglobin, hematocrit, Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV), Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin
Concentration (MCHC) and thrombocyte count were evaluated. Red blood cell morphology
and leukocyte count were performed with a microscope using peripheral blood
smears stained with Giemsa. The blood samples were also collected in heparinised
vials for biochemical analysis. Plasma was separated within 3 h from heparinised
blood for the evaluation of the various blood chemistry parameters. Plasma concentration
of Aspartate amino Transferase (AST), Alanine amino Transferase (ALT), Alkaline
Phosphatase (ALP), Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Total Protein (TP), albumin, creatinine
and total bilirubin were determined by automated clinical chemistry analyzer
(Vitros System Chemistry DT 60 11, Orthoclinical Diagnostics, Johnson and Johnson,
USA) using standard kits (Vitros-Ortho-clinical Diagnostics, Mumbai). Reticulocyte
count was done by counting reticulocytes in blood smears made from 0.5 mL of
whole blood incubated with an equal volume of brilliant cresyl blue. Results
were expressed as Means±Standard Deviation.
Statistical analysis: The arithmetical mean and standard deviation were calculated for all parameters using Windows, Ver 5.1 Release and Stat Soft.Inc.1984-1996.
Four cases of canine babesiosis including three cases of large forms of Babesia
(B. canis) and one case of B. gibsoni were diagnosed during the
period of study by microscopic examination of the stained blood smear (Fig.
1-4). There were four Babesia canis with in the
red blood cell and these were of lightly basophilic pyriform structures with
indistinct internal structures in Wright-Giemsa stain (Fig. 1).
||Peripheral blood smear showing an erythrocyte with large form
of Babesia (B. canis, arrow), Wright-Geimsa X 1000
||Peripheral blood smear revealing extra erythrocytic forms
of large Babesia (B. canis, arrow), Wright-Geimsa X 1000
||Peripheral blood smear revealing an erythrocyte infected with
Babesia gibsoni (arrow), Wright-Geimsa X 1500
||Peripheral blood smear showing ghost cells (arrows), seen
in hemolytic anemia as in babesiosis, Wright-Geimsa X 750
Group of extra erythrocytic, free Babesia forms may result from rupture
of the RBC with severe infection (Fig. 2). B. gibsoni,
small pleomorphic form without pyriform shape was present in the centre of the
blood smear (Fig. 3). Pale staining small red blood cells
called ghost cells vin the blood smear (Fig. 4) indicated
intravascular hemolysis in hemolytic anemia caused by babesiosis. On clinical
examination, most of the dogs were seen infested with ticks. The dogs mean rectal
temperature was 103°F. The animals affected with babesiosis had normocytic,
normochromic anemia and 50% of cases had a PCV less than 20%. The white blood
cell counts in Babesia infected dogs ranged from 3.3-11.8x103
μL-1 and majority (75%) had WBC counts lower than 6.0x103
μL-1. In this study, leukocyte abnormalities were non-specific
as either normal leukocyte count or leukopenia was observed. All the Babesia
infected dogs had thrombocytopenia. The serum chemistry includes BUN, creatinine,
total protein, albumin, bilirubin, ALT, AST remained unaltered in canine babesiosis,
except for an increase in ALP. The mean hematological and serum biochemical
values of uncomplicated cases of canine babesiosis are presented in Table
The hematological findings of canine babesiosis in the present study were in
agreement with the findings of Furlanello et al.
(2005) in infected dogs with Babesia in Northern Italy, however,
microcytic hypochromic anemia and thrombocytopenia were common clinical findings
in Babesia infected dogs in Bangkok (Niwetpathomwat
et al., 2006). It is speculated that the anemia in babesiosis resulted
from an increased osmotic fragility of erythrocytes and thrombocytopenia due
to immune-mediated platelets destruction (Makinde and Bobade,
1994). Increased erythrophagocytic activity of macrophages and immune-mediated
cleavage are the significant pathogenetic mechanisms of anemia in babesiosis
(Onishi and Suzuki, 1994). Additionally oxidative stress
in babesiosis may cause damage to erythrocytes that result in their increased
susceptibility to phagocytosis (Murase et al., 1996;
Tvedten, 2004). The decrease of hemoglobin concentration
below the reference value in 100% cases in the present investigation resulted
from extravascular hemolysis (Brockus and Andreasen, 2003).
The most common abnormality in the investigated parameters of babesiosis was
|| Hematological and biochemical findings (Mean±SE) in
canine babesiosis (n = 4)
|Hb: Haemoglobin, RBC: Red blood cell count, PCV: Packed cell
volume, MCV: Mean corpuscular volume, MCH: Mean haemoglobin concentration,
MCHC: Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, WBC: White blood cell
count, BUN: Blood urea nitrogen, ALP: Alkaline phosphatase, ALT: Alanine
amino transferase, AST: Aspartate amino transferase
The reason for thrombocytopenia in babesiosis may be due to platelet sequestration
in the spleen or immune mediated platelet destruction and development of disseminated
intravascular coagulation (Boozer and Macintire, 2003).
In this study elevated body temperature was recorded and this elevated body
temperature could have contributory effect on thrombocytopenia (Oglesbee
et al., 1999). Lymphocytopenia was found in all cases in this study
and this observation is contrary with the findings of Latimer
and Prasse (2003). Lymphocytopenia may be due to concurrent viral infection
associated with babesiosis.
The hematology and blood chemistry values in this study are similar to the results observed in other reports. The most significant abnormalities that are usually found in canine babesiosis are normocytic normochromic anemia and thrombocytopenia.
The authors are thankful to the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) authorities, Ludhiana for providing facilities and financial assistance for carrying out the research work.
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