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Open Access Research

Babesiosis due to the canine Babesia microti-like small piroplasm in dogs - first report from Portugal and possible vertical transmission

Paula Brilhante Simões1, Luís Cardoso23*, Manuela Araújo1, Yael Yisaschar-Mekuzas4 and Gad Baneth4

Author Affiliations

1 Inno - Serviços Especializados em Veterinária, Braga, Portugal

2 Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal

3 Parasite Disease Group, Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Portugal

4 School of Veterinary Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

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Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:50  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-50

Published: 13 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Canine babesiosis (or piroplasmosis) is endemic in northern Portugal, but molecularly confirmed cases of infection with small piroplasms have not been reported in the country. Three German shepherd dogs - a bitch and its 2-month old pup and an unrelated male - clinically suspected of piroplasmosis were assessed for babesial infection.

Results

Parasitemia with small piroplasms was detected by microscopy in two dogs. All three dogs were positive by PCR and the Babesia microti-like small piroplasm (syn. Theileria annae) was identified by DNA sequencing. These are the first confirmed cases of babesiosis caused by the B. microti-like piroplasm both in dogs from Portugal and in dogs suspected of clinical piroplasmosis outside of Spain.

Conclusions

Although the bitch and the male had visited neighboring Galicia (northwestern Spain), where the disease is endemic, incursion of this piroplasm into northern Portugal is evident and infection of the non-traveled pup was due to either vertical transmission or autochthonous tick infection.