Piroplasmosis Infections and Babesia in Dogs
Humans cannot contract Babesia from a dog
Piroplasmosis in Humans
Humans cannot contract Babesia from a dog
Its Symptoms: These are the symptoms of Piroplasmosis (even a few of which prompt Cabinet Veterinaire International to test for the presence of Babesia). In some cases, Piroplasmosis symptoms can resemble those of a rabies infection.
· decreased appetite
· chronic digestive troubles
· breathing problems
· caramel-colored urine (although CVI has only noted this symptom in 1 of 29 cases seen in our office)
· loss of bladder control
· chronic skin irritation
· muscle weakness, especially in the legs
· limping or difficulty walking
· muscles that are tender to the touch, especially in the back and legs
· loss of muscle control
· loss of coordination
· muscle tremors
· loss of sight
· extreme pain in the head and neck area
· ear twitching
· enlargement of the spleen
· low hemoglobin counts
· low blood platelet counts
· low blood pressure
· high globulin counts
· skeletal muscle deterioration
· sciatic nerve damage
· muscle bleeding
· organ dysfunction
· kidney failure
· elevated blood proteins
· death of muscle (caused by depleted blood oxygen supply)
· high immune system reaction
· central nervous system problems (caused by dead blood cells blocking CNS’s blood supply)
Piroplasmosis presents differently in every patient. Veterinarians report detecting Babesia with no accompanying symptoms, the sudden onset of acute Piroplasmosis symptoms, as well as long-lasting indications that classify it as a chronic illness. It is important to protect your dog against this disease because one never knows how profoundly it will affect any specific animal; plus, an infected dog can still transmit Babesia to other dogs even if the carrier is not experiencing any Piroplasmosis symptoms.
Diagnosing it: Diagnosis of a Babesia infection can be difficult, since it is highly reliant on the competency of the laboratory staff viewing the blood sample. A negative result can actually mean that a technician simply did not see the protozoa. Therefore, we at Cabinet Veterinaire International recommend Piroplasmosis therapy in any case. A polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test can also be ordered.
Complications of it:Piroplasmosis symptoms can be overwhelming on their own, but there are situations in which those symptoms can be worsened. For instance, if a splenectomized dog (i.e. a dog from which the spleen has been removed) contracts Babesia, symptoms will likely be more acute and come on more quickly than in a dog with an intact spleen. In one such case, a splenectomized fox terrier perished only 2 days after symptoms appeared. Moreover, a compromised immune system generally means that more red blood cells will be destroyed and the effects of Babesia will be more serious, will become chronic, or both.
Preventing it:There is a vaccine available for Piroplasmosis. Your dog may still contract Babesia, but the symptoms of the subsequent Piroplasmosis infection will be reduced. This is a good course of action, but it’s not the only thing a dog owner should do to protect his or her dog.
Never allow a veterinarian to administer a blood transfusion to your dog without showing verification that the blood donation is negative for Babesia.
Conduct daily examinations of your dog’s skin and promptly remove any embedded ticks that you might find. Use a pair of tweezers to pull the tick straight away from the skin in one fluid movement. Cleanse the skin with rubbing alcohol and plunge the extracted tick into a jar of alcohol. Date the jar and save it in case symptoms should arise.
Apply a tick deterrent product to your dog’s skin to discourage ticks from latching on. Cabinet Veterinaire International suggests applying just a small amount to one of your dog’s paws to ensure that no allergic reactions will result. If your dog does have an adverse reaction, call your dog’s veterinarian for treatment and for another anti-tick compound recommendation.
Treating it: When your veterinarian and you decide to treat for Piroplasmosis (which is always advisable in the presence of any symptoms), discuss possible risks (based on your dog’s current health) and side effects right away and follow that conversation with the commencement of that treatment. Acting quickly is imperative because the sooner treatment is started, the more effective it will be. With every hour that passes, symptoms can compound, permanent damage can be done, and death can become an unavoidable probability.
During treatment, which consists of a series of medications and intravenous therapy, the dog’s hydration level should be monitored and the possibility of a blood transfusion should be considered. The duration of treatment will vary – depending on the severity of the Babesia infection, the present state of the patient’s immune system…among other factors.