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Canine babesiosis in Romania due to Babesia canis and Babesia vogeli: a molecular approach

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Abstract

Canine babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by the protozoa Babesia spp. that affects dogs worldwide. In Romania, canine babesiosis has become quite frequent in the last few years, with a wide variety of clinical signs, ranging from mild, nonspecific illness to peracute collapse, and even death. Traditionally, a Babesia infection in dogs is diagnosed based on the morphologic appearance of the intraerythrocytic piroplasms observed in peripheral blood smears. To date, no data on genetic characterization of Babesia species in dogs has been documented for Romania. Therefore, a molecular survey on natural Babesia infections of dogs in Romania using polymerase chain reaction and genetic sequence analysis of a fragment of the ssRNA gene was performed. A total number of 16 blood samples were tested for the presence of Babesia DNA. Blood samples were collected from 11 dogs with symptoms of babesiosis and microscopically proven positive for Babesia and from a group of five asymptomatic dogs, not tested microscopically for Babesia, which were included in the study for comparative analysis. The piroplasm-specific PCR amplifying the partial 18S rRNA gene confirmed Babesia spp. infection in all 11 samples from dogs with clinical babesiosis, and in one of the clinically normal dogs. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of Babesia canis in all clinically affected dogs and Babesia vogeli in one clinically normal dog. This is the first molecular evidence of B. canis and B. vogeli in dogs from Romania. The results of the study provide basic information toward a better understanding of the epidemiology of canine babesiosis in Romania and will help to promote an effective control program.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by CNCSIS-UEFISCDI, Romania, project PNII-ID code 729/2007 and partial by CNMP-UEFISCDI, Romania, project code 52-161/2008.

The authors gratefully acknowledge Claudia Thiel for assistance in the laboratory. We also would like to express thanks to the technical assistance of the laboratory staff of the Chair of Comparative Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. We thank Sharon Tolliver and E.T. Lyons for reviewing the English version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mariana Ionita.

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Ionita, M., Mitrea, I.L., Pfister, K. et al. Canine babesiosis in Romania due to Babesia canis and Babesia vogeli: a molecular approach. Parasitol Res 110, 1659–1664 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-011-2683-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-011-2683-y

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