PitBullary - Pit Bull Related Info
Pit Bulls and Canine Babesia
Recently I read a post where it stated that Babesia or Babesiosis is a "dogfighting disease" and since I had never heard that referenced before, I figured I'd learn a bit more about it. I started by asking a trusted source and then I moved on to reading numerous websites with focus on Babesiosis. I have luckily never had any personal experience with it and I have only known of it as a transmitted "tick" disease. What I learned and did not know is it can be transmitted dog to dog through bites, dirty needles or surgical instruments and from mom to pups. It is also a disease that has a high prevalence in Pit Bull Terriers and racing Greyhounds. However, I am not so sure I would call it a "dogfighting disease" as that gives it a connotation of being related only to Pit Bulls and dog fighting and that is not the case. Any dog can get this, and dog owners need to be aware of it. This is an informational post, Pit Bull Hill does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. If you think your dog is sick, please seek a veterinarians assistance.
what is babesia?
Babesia microti, is a microscopic (teeny tiny, can not be seen without a microscope) parasite that infects red blood cells. Babesia infections occur in dogs and other species and are transmitted primarily by ticks. There are many species of Babesia, but those most concerning to dog owners are Babesia canis and Babesia gibsoni. While any dog can become infected with Babesia, Greyhounds and Pit Bulls seem to be more prone to getting it.
The Babesia species that infect dogs in North America are:
how babesia infection happens
An infected tick must feed on a dog for 2-3 days to transfer the babesia organism. If the babesia manages to reach the bloodstream, it rapidly reproduces. This, in turn, affects the red blood cells and their macrophages.The hematozoa then attaches to the lung and liver tissues, where it can cause irreversible damage and even sometime death.Once this transfer occurs, the babesia organism continues to develop as it moves from the bloodstream into the red blood cells. Although Babesia is considered a tick borne disease it can also be transmitted by dog bites, blood transfusions, contaminated needles, surgical instruments, and from dogs that are pregnant to their unborn puppies.
what happens once infected
There is an incubation period that usually lasts between 2 and 4 weeks. However, the symptoms may only become noticeable up to 2 months after the bite. Babesia organisms continue to develop as they move from the bloodstream into the red blood cells. When the organisms mature in the cells, that cell will rupture and release the organism into the bloodstream to infect additional cells. The body’s own immune system will detect the infected red blood cells and destroy them and often the host’s immune system will begin destroying the uninfected red cells as well. This causes anemia or lack of red blood cells. Babesia infections have a wide range of severity, they can be very mild to fatal. That mainly depends on the strain of Babesia.
symptoms of babesia
Babesia is treatable but not necessarily curable (meaning treatment can reduce eliminate symptoms), but dogs may still test positive and should always be considered a permanent Babesia carrier (meaning they still can pass it on).
prevention is key
Preventing Babesia in a normal dog setting is simple by provided good quality flea and tick preventative and also doing tick checks during warmer weather when ticks are prevalent. Babesia species are found worldwide, although in North America, most canine cases of babesiosis occur in the southern United States.