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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

A survey of canine tick-borne diseases in India

Puteri Azaziah Megat Abd Rani14*, Peter J Irwin2, Glen T Coleman1, Mukulesh Gatne3 and Rebecca J Traub1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland, Australia

2 School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Western Australia

3 Bombay Veterinary College, Parel, Mumbai, India

4 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

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Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:141  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-141

Published: 19 July 2011

Abstract

Background

There are few published reports on canine Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Hepatozoon and haemotropic Mycoplasma infections in India and most describe clinical disease in individual dogs, diagnosed by morphological observation of the microorganisms in stained blood smears. This study investigated the occurrence and distribution of canine tick-borne disease (TBD) pathogens using a combination of conventional and molecular diagnostic techniques in four cities in India.

Results

On microscopy examination, only Hepatozoon gamonts were observed in twelve out of 525 (2.3%; 95% CI: 1.2, 4) blood smears. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a total of 261 from 525 dogs (49.7%; 95% CI: 45.4, 54.1) in this study were infected with one or more canine tick-borne pathogen. Hepatozoon canis (30%; 95% CI: 26.0, 34.0) was the most common TBD pathogen found infecting dogs in India followed by Ehrlichia canis (20.6%; 95% CI: 17.2, 24.3), Mycoplasma haemocanis (12.2%; 95% CI: 9.5, 15.3), Anaplasma platys (6.5%; 95% CI: 4.5, 8.9), Babesia vogeli (5.5%, 95% CI: 3.7, 7.8) and Babesia gibsoni (0.2%, 95% CI: 0.01, 1.06). Concurrent infection with more than one TBD pathogen occurred in 39% of cases. Potential tick vectors, Rhipicephalus (most commonly) and/or Haemaphysalis ticks were found on 278 (53%) of dogs examined.

Conclusions

At least 6 species of canine tick-borne pathogens are present in India. Hepatozoon canis was the most common pathogen and ticks belonging to the genus Rhipicephalus were encountered most frequently. Polymerase chain reaction was more sensitive in detecting circulating pathogens compared with peripheral blood smear examination. As co-infections with canine TBD pathogens were common, Indian veterinary practitioners should be cognisant that the discovery of one such pathogen raises the potential for multiple infections which may warrant different clinical management strategies.