Babesias are microscopic blood parasites that cause disease in many animals. They are transmitted to the dog mainly through tick bites but can also be transmitted via direct transmission through blood transmission from dog bites, blood transfusion or transplacental transmission. The primary result of a Babesia infection is anemia as the immune system destroys infected red blood cells, but Babesia can have other effects throughout the body as well.
The incubation period ranges averages about two weeks but symptoms remain mild and sometimes, undiagnosed for months to years.
Piroplasms are the stage of Babesia that invades mammalian red blood cells, causing anemia. They infect and replicate in the red blood cells causing direct and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, where the red blood cells (RBCs) are broken down through hemolysis (destruction) and hemoglobin is released into the body. This can result in juandice and anemia when the body can not produce enough red blood cells to account for the ones being destroyed. Immune-mediated hemolytic-anemia is more serious since the severity of the condition is not dependent on the presence of parasites.
This condition is more prevalent in warmer weather when tick population is at its highest. Dogs that spend lots of time outdoor or that live in wooded areas are more prone to this condition. Additionally, younger dogs are more likely to be affected by babesiosis due to their undeveloped immune systems.
Common symptoms associated with this disorder are
Lack of energy
Lack of appetite
Yellow or orange skin