Detection of Babesia gibsoni and the canine small Babesia ‘Spanish isolate’ in blood samples obtained from dogs confiscated from dogfighting operations

Todd J. Yeagley Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Mason V. Reichard Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Julie E. Hempstead Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Kelly E. Allen Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Lindsey M. Parsons Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Mellanie A. White Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Susan E. Little Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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James H. Meinkoth Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of Babesia gibsoni infection in dogs that were confiscated from dogfighting operations.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—157 pit bull–type dogs that were confiscated as part of dogfighting prosecution cases in Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington and 218 randomly selected animal shelter dogs with no known history of dogfighting.

Procedures—Blood samples collected from confiscated dogs were tested for infection with B gibsoni by use of a nested PCR assay. Samples that yielded positive results underwent DNA sequencing to confirm infection with B gibsoni. Control blood samples collected from 218 randomly selected dogs in animal shelters (ie, dogs that had no known involvement in dogfighting events) were also analyzed.

Results—Results of nested PCR assays indicated that 53 of 157 (33.8%) confiscated dogs were infected with B gibsoni; 1 (0.6%) dog was infected with the canine small Babesia ‘Spanish isolate’ (also known as Theileria annae). To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of infection with this small Babesia ‘Spanish isolate’ in a North American dog. Dogs with scars (indicative of fighting) on the face, head, and forelimbs were 5.5 times as likely to be infected with B gibsoni as were dogs without scars. Of the control dogs, 1 (0.5%) pit bull–type dog was infected with B gibsoni.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that B gibsoni is a common parasite of dogs confiscated from dogfighting operations and suggested that dogs with a history of fighting should be evaluated for infection with B gibsoni.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of Babesia gibsoni infection in dogs that were confiscated from dogfighting operations.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—157 pit bull–type dogs that were confiscated as part of dogfighting prosecution cases in Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington and 218 randomly selected animal shelter dogs with no known history of dogfighting.

Procedures—Blood samples collected from confiscated dogs were tested for infection with B gibsoni by use of a nested PCR assay. Samples that yielded positive results underwent DNA sequencing to confirm infection with B gibsoni. Control blood samples collected from 218 randomly selected dogs in animal shelters (ie, dogs that had no known involvement in dogfighting events) were also analyzed.

Results—Results of nested PCR assays indicated that 53 of 157 (33.8%) confiscated dogs were infected with B gibsoni; 1 (0.6%) dog was infected with the canine small Babesia ‘Spanish isolate’ (also known as Theileria annae). To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of infection with this small Babesia ‘Spanish isolate’ in a North American dog. Dogs with scars (indicative of fighting) on the face, head, and forelimbs were 5.5 times as likely to be infected with B gibsoni as were dogs without scars. Of the control dogs, 1 (0.5%) pit bull–type dog was infected with B gibsoni.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that B gibsoni is a common parasite of dogs confiscated from dogfighting operations and suggested that dogs with a history of fighting should be evaluated for infection with B gibsoni.

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