Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Babesiosis

Synonym(s): Redwater

Contributor(s): Mike Reynolds , Mark Burnell

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Introduction

  • Cause:
    • Babesia divergens is responsible for clinical disease in temperate Europe and the U.K. and is spread by the sheep tick, Ioxodes ricinus.
    • Babesia bigemina is responsible for clinical disease in Africa, Australia, Southern Europe, Central and Southern America.
    • Although not present in the UK, Babesia bovis, is found throughout the world where boophilus ticks proliferate, in particular Southern Europe.
    • Babesia major is a non-pathogenic species found in South East England.
  • Signs: pyrexia, pallor, tachycardia, tachypnea, hemolytic anemia, icterus, hemoglobinuria and death. Cattle with the chronic form may suffer from marked emaciation, depressed milk yields and abortion.
  • Diagnosis: demonstration of the organism on blood or tissue smears using Giemsa stain.
  • Treatment: imidocarb (1-3 mg/kg) via the subcutaneous route.
  • Prognosis: guarded.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Cattle and the tick hosts serve as the main reservoir of infection.
  • Clinical disease is almost always transmitted by ticks, but like other blood borne diseases, iatrogenic transfer via needles or surgical interventions is possible.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Naïve cattle introduced into an endemic area.
  • Infected cattle introduced into an uninfected area.
  • Cattle grazed on rough grazing.
  • Infected ticks transported on cattle or wildlife such as deer into an uninfected area.
  • Physiological stress, for example, malnutrition, transportation or parturition.
  • There is an increased incidence of disease during periods of peak tick activity, namely the Spring and Autumn.

Pathophysiology

  • After inoculation as sporozoites, the parasite enters the erythrocytes and undergoes further division into trophozoites and then merozoites Ticks: overview.
  • Rupture of the erythrocytes occurs with emergence of the merozoites and the classical signs of the disease.
  • Ticks become infected by feeding on infected cattle and the parasites are passed onto the ovaries of the ticks so that all new generations of ticks are infected.

Timecourse

  • Clinical signs manifest 2-3 weeks after tick infestation.

Epidemiology

  • Passively acquired resistance from colostrum Colostrum: overview lasts about 2 months but is followed by innate immunity to babesiosis from 3 to 9 months of age.
  • In endemic regions calves are usually exposed to babesia between 3-9 months of age and rarely develop clinical disease followed by long term immunity of up to 4 years duration. However, should calves fail to be exposed within this 3-9 month window for example following a decrease in infected tick numbers, endemic instability will ensue, making these calves susceptible to disease outbreaks later in life.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Hoch T, Goebela J, Agoulona A & Malandrina L (2012) Modelling bovine babesiosis: A tool to simulate scenarios for pathogen spread and to test control measures for the disease. Preventive Veterinary Medicine (106), 136– 142 PubMed.
  • Taylor M (2000) Protozoal disease in cattle and sheep. In Practice (22), 604-617.

Other sources of information

  • Zaugg J L (2015) Diseases of the organ systems. In: Smith B P Large Animal Internal Medicine.  5th edn. Elsevier, St. Louis, pp. 1056-1058
  • Brown C & Torres A (2008) USAHA Foreign Animal Diseases. 7th edn.


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