During the years 2012-2014, a total of 158 outdoor dogs from Pancevo and Durdevo (northern Serbia) and Nis and Prokuplje (southern Serbia) were submitted to molecular analyses (PCR and sequencing) for canine babesioses.
An overall prevalence of 21.5% was found, due to the species Babesia sp. 'spanish dog' (10.1%), B. gibsoni (5.7%), B. canis vogeli (1.9%), B. caballi (1.9%), and B. microti (1.9%). In addition, sequence analysis showed the presence of Hepatozoon canis in a dog from Niš.
No significant difference between infected and non-infected dogs was found by age, sex, and place of residence, whereas there was difference regarding the presence of ticks (p<0.005) and application of preventive measures such as applying of anti-tick drugs/devices. Moreover, a significant difference was established by area: Dogs from Prokuplje showed infection rates (59.1%) higher than dogs from Pancevo (11.9%), Niš (4.5), and Durdevo (where infected dogs were not found), and a different geographical distribution of the species was found.
The presence of so many Babesia species and the first identification of H. canis will allow investigations on the pathogenic role played by each one and suggests entomological studies on the tick species that are more suitable vectors for each of them. Finally, the presence of so many infected dogs offers the opportunity of evaluating the hypothesis of a possible zoonotic role of babesial species affecting dogs.
Source: S. Gabrielli, et al. Canine Babesioses in Non-Investigated Areas of Serbia. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. September 8, 2015.