ABSTRACT

Canine babesiosis (CB) is a significant tick-borne disease caused by intra-erytrocytic protozoa of the genus Babesia (Apicomplexa: Piroplasmida) and is currently emerging or re-emerging in many European countries. Despite the increasing incidence of clinical CB, little is known of the epidemiology of this disease in Romania. Therefore, the present study was conducted to provide epidemiological data on CB in the coastal area of the Black Sea (Dobrogea), southeastern Romania. For this, 306 owned dogs presented during 2016–2018 at a veterinary clinic in the area and clinically suspected for CB were tested for the presence of intra-erytrocytic piroplasms using Giemsa-stained thin blood smears. Overall, 27.8% (95% CI: 22.83–33.16) of dogs were positive for large piroplasms. The Babesia spp.–positive dogs were 51 males and 34 females aged from 3 mo to 13 yr (mean 4.2 yr; SD = 3.6). A higher rate of infection was registered in Bichon Maltese (n = 13) and mixed-breed (n = 28) dogs. Most cases (76/85; 89.4%) were diagnosed from March to June, with only a few cases registered in November and December (1 case each). Infected dogs displayed different clinical presentations, varying from mild (38.8%) to moderate (29.4%) and severe disease (29.4%). Based on clinical- pathological changes, 38 (44.7%), 34 (40.0%), and 13 (15.3%) dogs were diagnosed with uncomplicated babesiosis, complicated babesiosis with a single organ dysfunction, and complicated babesiosis with multiple-organ-dysfunction syndrome (MODS), respectively. The recovery rate (81.6%, 70.1%, and 38.4%, respectively) was significantly different in these groups. The age of dogs appeared to be a risk factor for both severe disease (mean age of 5.8 yr) and MODS (mean age 6.8 yr). These findings document the common occurrence of CB in Dobrogea, southeastern Romania, and suggest that appropriate control measures need to be taken.

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