Babesiosis is a protozoan disease of dogs and cats spread by ticks. It has not been reported in cats common to North America. There are several varieties of Babesia; only three varieties infect the domestic dog and four varieties infect cats.
Anemia (blood loss), the primary sign of infection, may range from no outward signs to severe and even fatal anemia caused by destruction of the red blood cells. The Babesia organism can show up in the bloodstream 1 to 2 days after infection, then disappear for 10 to 14 days before recurring within the red blood cells. It can also spread to the fetuses of an infected mother. Some dogs may be carriers and not show outward signs of illness unless stress causes the infection to flare up and produces visible signs of illness. Infections can recur because immunity does not result from the initial infection. Owners cannot contract the disease directly from their pets.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Laboratory tests are required to confirm the diagnosis and to evaluate the physical condition of the patient. Repeated tests are also required to monitor the response to treatment.
2. Blood transfusions are often required in severe cases for life-saving purposes.
3. Medication: Drugs are available to eliminate the disease. Most of the problems arise from the results of the rapidly developing anemia.