Two new Babesia cases in Romford
Two new cases of Babesia have been confirmed in dogs from Romford, Essex. The dogs had no history of foreign travel and no known connection with the Babesia cases in Harlow earlier this year.
An 11-year-old Labrador was brought to the Best Friends Veterinary Group in Romford as an emergency, but was dead on arrival. When asked about ticks, the owner reported finding two on the dog a fortnight previously. Testing revealed Babesia gibsoni.
In the second case, a male Labrador named Ben was brought to the surgery after his owner had found and attempted to remove two ticks from his body.
Veterinary surgeon Alina Ancuta said Ben presented with a fever and lethargy but had a good appetite and was drinking normally. She discussed the possibility of Babesia with the owner but as the incubation period is 12-14 days after a tick bite, any tests would come back negative.
After 12 days Ben returned to the practice with high fever, lethargy, pink gums and capillary refill time of less than two seconds. Blood tests revealed anaemia and infection, and a blood smear was positive for Babesia.
Treatment with fluids and Clyndamicin was commenced immediately, followed by Imizol, which was received after three days. Blood smears were repeated every three days but after one week the dog had not shown any improvement and was referred to the RVC's Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, where he has made a full recovery.
Earlier this year, a cluster of babesiosis cases in dogs with no history of foreign travel were traced to a popular dog walking area in Harlow, where a survey confirmed the presence of an infected population of Dermacentor reticulatus ticks. The two new cases have renewed concerns about the disease, as they occurred around 20 miles away from the original site in Harlow.
Babesiosis is transmitted to dogs by infected ticks and symptoms include fever, jaundice and a lack of appetite.
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) issued a statement in May owing to concerns about the availability of treatments for babesiosis.