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Dr.  Vamvakias
Dr. Vamvakias, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
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Experience:  Small Animal & Emergency Medicine
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babesia canis

Customer Question

I want to adopt a greyhound that has a very mild case babesia canis. Can this be cured? Am I setting myself up for a dog that dies shortly? The case is so mild the vet is saying not to treat it. The dog will be 3 in july.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Tammy F. replied 11 years ago.
 

With these dogs, your focus is more on treating the symptoms than curing the dog.


Here's some great information:


Therapy for Babesia is not a benign under-taking. In fact, if a dog is asymptomatic with Babesia, treatment is not worth the side effects. Further, even with treatment Babesia gibsoni, and probably the other small Babesia species, cannot be fully cleared by any of the drugs listed. Female dogs testing positive for Babesia should not be bred.



    Diminazene Aceturate
    This drug is not available in the U.S. but in other countries is the most commonly used treatment. A single injection is needed and is best used on Babesia canis.  Side effects include: nausea, blood pressure drop, painful injection, seizures, and some fatal reactions.


    Imidocarb Dipropionate
    This is the only drug approved for Babesiosis in the U.S. A single dose is usually effective for Babesia canis but two given two weeks apart are needed for Babesia gibsoni and the other smaller Babesias. The injection is painful plus causes muscle tremors, drooling, elevated heart rate, shivering, fever, facial swelling, tearing of the eyes, and restlessness. Pre-treatment with an injection of atropine helps palliate these side effects.


    Trypan Blue
    This medication serves to block the parasite from entering red blood cells and may help minimize the symptoms of the infection. Side effects are minimal and it is given as an IV drip.


    Phenamidine Isethionate
    This drug is not available in the U.S. but a similar drug, Pentamidine isethionate, is.  It is more effective on Babesia canis.


    Quinuronium Sulfate
    This drug is not available in the U.S. It is similar to malarial treatment. It is given as a series of two injections two days apart generally with marked improvement in the patient by the second injection.


A combination therapy of quinine, azithromycin, atovaquone, and/or clindamycin are promising and may become prominent in the future.


A vaccine is available against Babesia in France but only seems effective against certain strains. Vaccination is 89% effective in France. The best prevention is aimed at tick control.


source






Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Tammy Falkner's Post: this is just information that I can find myself. What I don't know is the chances the dog has for a regular life span versus taking a dog that is not affected with this disease. I can't find any information that tells me when a dog has such a low amount of the disease in the testing what that means for that dog and if they should be treated with antibiotics or something as a preventative to having a full blown disease or if she will ever be free of this disease? and if she won't be free of it how will it affect her life?
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 11 years ago.

 Well,


There are not "for sures" with this infection. Unfortunately B.canis is prevalent in greyhounds. The one you are looking at could have already been sick and is a chronic carrier state or hasn't got sick yet.  You can try the treatment, but they don't always test clear.  They can get the clinical signs during times of stress, surgery, splenectomy, etc. The thing that stinks is there is no way to predict it. 


If you have an option of a B.canis free greyhound...that is a better option. If you love this dog, it may be worth it to you to see what you get, either way there will be some expense down the road.


I am sure I missed something...let me know what else I can help with.


Dr.V

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: I am assuming by your answer, that if she tests positive for the disease now she will have it forever and it can flare up at anytime...true? If so and she hasn't gotten sick yet do I need to have her tested regularly to beat the clock on it becoming full blown in case she doesn't exhibit symptoms? My black lab had lyme disease, am I looking at the same type of thing where there is a remission period and it can show itself and I just treat it as it happens? If she has already been sick and is in a carrier state what does that mean- that she won't flare up but can pass it on if her blood was used for transfusions?
thanks for your help. I really want to give this little girl the best home, but am desperately afraid she will die a very short life span and I will be crushed. I have not had any exposure to this disease and just can't find much on the internet the gives me all the information I am seeking to make this decision.
Expert:  Dr. Vamvakias replied 11 years ago.

 I would be lying to tell you I know the specifics off the top of my head. B. canis is just not that prevalent that I have had to deal with long term issues.  The difference with it vs. Lymes, is that Lymes disease tests pick up antibody titers so it can mean exposure with no infection..and titers can be positive for years.


B.canis is an acutal protozoan that is sitting in the red cells, and I guess it depends on how the dog was diagnosed.


If it is okay...let me try to do some digging, and I will see if I can not provide you alittle more guidance.


My gut about the blood transfusion is that the blood will not be able to be used at any time..but again, I will see if I can find more information.


It may not be tonight...probably tomorrow...


Dr.Vamvakias

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Dr. Vamvakias's Post: Thank you..I really appreciate it. I had my black lab from 5 weeks old until a week before she tuned 11 and she died of spleen cancer last year and I just can't imagine going through something so awful with a new dog in a year or two...I am just afraid to get attached if the life expectancy is very low....what does it mean when a dog whose titer is very low may be "EXPOSED" but not infected? Does that mean that they may never even develop the disease?

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