STUDIES ON INCIDENCE OF BABESIOSIS IN STRAY AND PET DOGS IN AND AROUND BHUBANESWAR

Charchika Panda1, M. Dehuri2, M.R. Panda3 and B.N. Mohanty4

1M.V.Sc. Student, 2Assistant Professor, 3Professor and Head, 4Associate Professor; Department of Veterinary
Parasitology; College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry; Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology;
Bhubaneswar-751003 (Odisha).
[Received: 05.2.2017; Accepted: 18.9.2017]
{DOI 10.29005/IJCP.2017.9.2.174-178}

Canine babesiosis is caused by tick borne protozoal parasite Babesia canis and B. gibsoni worldwide. In the
current study, a total of 198 blood samples from both stray and pet dogs with history of fever (1020F to 1060F),
anorexia, anaemia, hemoglobinuria, enlarged lymph nodes and tick infestation were collected and examined at
Teaching Veterinary clinical complex, Veterinary College, OUAT, Bhubaneswar during a period of nearly one year
(August 2014 to June 2015). Examination of blood smears revealed an overall incidence of 8.07% (16/198) with 3.53% (7/198) positive for B. canis and 4.54% (9/198) positive for B. gibsoni. The younger males (<1 year of age) of both stray and pet dogs belonging to Labrador breed were found to be most infected with the babesiosis infection during summer followed by rainy and winter season. The percentage of incidence was higher in pet dogs (9%) as compared to stray dogs (7.14%).
Key words: Babesia canis, Babesia gibsoni, Canine.

Canine babesiosis is a tick-borne life threatening hemoparasitic disease caused by the intra-erythrocytic protozoan parasites under the genus Babesia in many parts of the world including India. The identification of species has traditionally been based on the host specificity and on the morphology of the intra-erythrocytic forms (piroplasms).
Babesia canis (Large form, 3.0–5.0 μm) and B. gibsoni (Small form, 1.5–2.5 μm) are recognized as the two species that cause canine babesiosis worldwide and are transmitted by Dermacentor reticulatus in Europe, Rhipicephalus sanguineus in tropical and subtropical regions and Haemaphysalis leachi in South Africa (Uilenberg 2006). B.
canis usually occurs as a single pear-shaped piroplasm or in pairs of merozoites divided by binary fission within the erythrocyte and B. gibsoni appears as small pleomorphic organism.

Besides individual factors like age, sex, immunity, genetic makeup of different breeds, adaptability to prevailing
environment, inter current diseases, other stress causing factors such as pregnancy, lactation, transportation etc. can have direct impact on babesiosis (Brandao et al. 2003). Clinically canine babesiosis has been found to
result in a wide range of presentations, from subclinical disease to serious and even fatal illness characterized by fever, pallor, jaundice, splenomegaly, weakness and collapse associated with intra and extravascular haemolysis, hypoxic injury, systemic inflammation, thrombocytopenia and pigmenturia.

Direct microscopic examination is the conventional method for detecting Babesia spp. in animal blood samples. This is a conclusive, feasible and low cost diagnostic method. Though large surveys on canine babesiosis are scanty, a number of reports suggest that the parasite infects dogs worldwide. In Indian content, there have been
sporadic reports of canine babesiosis based on conventional diagnostic methods.The present study was conducted to find out the status of canine babesiosis in stray and pet dogs in and around Bhubaneswar by microscopic
examination.

Materials and Methods Study area:
The stray dogs from different regions of Bhubaneswar and it’s periphery, brought to the Veterinary Dispensary, Saheed Nagar, Bhubaneswar for Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme (carried out jointly by the Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department, Government of Odisha and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation under the direct supervision of the Animal Welfare Board of India and CPCSEA for controlling the population of
stray dogs) and the pet dogs presented to the Teaching Veterinary Clinical Complex of the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, OUAT, Bhubaneswar were included in the present study. Bhubaneswar is
located between 20° 14′ 0″ North, 85° 50′ 0″ East with an average relative humidity of 70% and annual rainfall of 1,542 mm (61 in). It is in the eastern coastal plains, along the axis of the Eastern Ghats Mountains. The city
has an average altitude of 45 m (148 ft) above sea level.

Population size:
A total of 198 (100 pet & 98 stray) dogs (82 in summer, 43 in rainy, and 73 in winter season) having clinical signs like anorexia, weakness, lethargy, fever (102-106 0F), anaemia, pale mucous membrane, haemoglobinuria and a history of tick infestation were examined for babesiosis for a period of nearly one year (August 2014 to
June 2015).The samples were taken from 125 males and 73 females belonging to two age groups (below 1 year of age and above 1 year of age) .

Samples collection and examination:
2 ml of blood samples were collected from all these dogs in vials containing EDTA (Ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid) as anticoagulant. To make a thin blood film, a drop of blood was placed on a clean glass slide drawn into a smear; air dried, fixed in methanol, stained with Giemsa stain and examined under light microscope by using the
oil immersion objective (100X) , within 4 to 6 hour according to standard protocol.

Statistical analysis:
Statistical analysis was carried out by Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) using chi- square test.

Results and Discussion
In the present study, examination of blood smear from 198 cases revealed an overall incidence of 8.08 % (16/198) with 3.53% (7/198) positive for B. canis and 4.54% (9/198) positive for B. gibsoni. Previously, from the same region, prevalence of 1.66% and 4.81% for B. canis and B. gibsoni, respectively as was also reported by Sahu et al. (2014). The relatively lower incidence could be due to inability of microscopic examination to detect the organisms in chronic cases and in low parasitemia. Similar findings were recorded in earlier studies carried out at Punjab by
Singh et al. ( 2012) and from North Western region of India by Eljadar (2010) revealing the prevalence of B. gibsoni and B. canis in the range of 0.65%–8.26% and 1.43%– 4.51%, respectively. The lower prevalence of babesiosis in dogs could be attributed to a substantial improvement in the management practices, which have reduced the exposure of canines to tick vector, thus leading to a decrease in the cases of canine babesiosis. The prevalence of canine babesiosis in Assam, however, has been reported to be as high as 48.57% and 39.63%. The higher
prevalence in this area might be due to favourable climate with moderate temperature, high humidity, and unabated
movement of dogs making it highly enzootic for canine babesiosis as have been recorded by Bhattacharjee and Sarmah, 2013 and Laha et al. (2014).
Perusal of the data of (Table-1) revealed that the overall incidence of babesiosis was higher in both stray and pet
dogs of less than 1 year of age, while the variation in the percentage of incidence in different age groups was not statistically significant. Babesia spp. cause disease mostly in young dogs, although dogs of all ages can be affected.


Analysis of data of (Table-2) revealed that the overall incidence was found to be higher (9.6%) among males than females (5.47%) in both stray and pet dogs; however this variation was statistically not significant. Our investigations have corroborated with the findings in Jalandhar, where prevalence of babesiosis was comparatively higher in males (6.47%) than female dogs (3.52%) as reported by Kumar et al. (2015). Similar observation
has also been reported from Pakisthan, where 3.39% of males and 1.32% of females were affected by canine babesiosis as reported by Bashir et al. (2009). Investigation from different parts of the world also revealed that
the prevalence of babesiosis was higher in males than females as also reported by Yao et al. (2014). However some other studies have showed that disease was more prevalent in females than males as reported by Das et al.
(2015) and Laha et al. (2014). Higher incidence rate in males during our study might be due to their frequent roaming to look for mates and establishing territories thus picking the ticks, which act as vector for this disease. The aggressiveness and hormonal status of male dogs could also be a contributory factor.

Analysis of data on the influence of season on incidence of babesiosis in dogs distributed over three seasons (Table-3) revealed highest percentage (10.97%) of incidence during summer season followed by rainy (6.97%) and lowest (5.47%) in winter and influence of season on incidence of babesiosis was not significant (p>0.05), which agrees to the findings recorded by other workers (Das et al., 2015). The highest rate of incidence in summer followed by
rainy season recorded in our study could be attributed to the seasonal activity of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus which is in abundance in hot and humid period of the year.

Breed wise incidence of babesiosis infection in dogs has been described in (Table-4). The overall incidence of
babesiosis was higher in Labrador (17.85%) followed by German shepherd (15.38%), Spitz (12.5%), Pug (10%), Rottweiler (9.09%), mixed breed (8.33%), Great Dane (5.55%) and non- descript (4.08%). The higher incidence in Labrador in our study might be due to the preference of most of people to keep this breed as pet. Most of the
police dogs belonging to this breed are involved in various patrolling and trafficking activities, so there might be chances of exposure to tick infestations. However some workers have also described that non-descript dogs were found to be the most commonly affected due to their scavenging habits and exposure to vectors as reported by Selvaraj et al. (2010) also.

Acknowledgements
The authors acknowledge the cooperation extended by the In-charge of Animal Birth Control Program, Bhubaneswar for collection of samples and also to the Dean, Veterinary College, OUAT, Bhubaneswar for providing necessary facilities to undertake the study.

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