Piroplasmosis in Humans

Piroplasmosis Infections and Babesia in Dogs
Humans cannot contract Babesia from a dog
Piroplasmosis in Humans

Piroplasmosis in Humans

You need not worry about contracting Babesia from your dog. Humans can develop Piroplasmosis, but only as a result of Babesia strains that specifically affect humans. Individuals who incubate Babesia may develop symptoms that resemble those of malaria – resulting in misdiagnosis. One such case was recently documented in Australia. A man, 56 years old, had been seriously injured in a car crash. His kidney, liver, and bones were affected. During his 4-month recovery, he developed malaria-like symptoms, including anemia, liver dysfunction, and a low blood platelet count. A look at his blood under a microscope revealed what looked, at first glance, to be malaria; but after treatment showed no improvement, it soon became evident that malaria was not the culprit. Piroplasmosis was diagnosed after it was too late – the man’s life was lost. Puzzling to medical professionals was that this was not only the first diagnosed case of Piroplasmosis in Australia or New Zealand, but this man had not left the continent (beyond visiting New Zealand) for 40 years. His son’s blood tested negative. His dog also tested negative (even though canine Piroplasmosis would not have been communicable). The only answer that experts can settle upon is that the parasites are being transported overseas by seabirds and by rodents that hitch rides on ships (which either carry the parasite themselves or the multiple species of ticks that harbor Babesia).

Beyond what this Australian man experienced, other human Piroplasmosis symptoms include chills, fever, and multiple organ failure. It seems that the older a person becomes, the more likely it is that Piroplasmosis symptoms will be profound and life-threatening – as confirmed by a 2011 Massachusetts study (a state in which the number of diagnosed cases doubled in 2011) finding that elderly individuals are more susceptible. Other factors that intensify Piroplasmosis symptoms are a compromised immune system and splenectomy.

Piroplasmosis and Lyme disease (both tick-borne illnesses) are showing up in a number of countries where they had never before been diagnosed (including The States, Asia, Australia, and Europe). For this reason, human doctors and animal doctors alike are overlooking the ordering of laboratory tests that could save lives. If you’re concerned about your dog’s specific symptoms or you have any questions about Piroplasmosis or the Babesia that causes it, please contact Cabinet Veterinaire International or call 022 755 55 33.