Babesia lengau associated with cerebral and haemolytic babesiosis in two domestic cats

Bosman, Anna-Mari, Oosthuizen, Marinda C., Venter, Estelle H., Steyl, Johan C.A., Gous, Tertius A., and Penzhorn, Barend L. (2013) Babesia lengau associated with cerebral and haemolytic babesiosis in two domestic cats. Parasites & Vectors, 6. 128. pp. 1-6.

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Background: Although reported sporadically from various countries, feline babesiosis appears to be a significant clinical entity only in South Africa, where Babesia felis is usually incriminated as the causative agent. Babesia lengau, recently described from asymptomatic cheetahs, has now possibly been incriminated as the causative agent in two severe clinical cases in domestic cats.

Findings: Both cats were euthanised in extremis. While typical feline babesiosis in South Africa is an afebrile disease with a chronic manifestation, there was acute onset of severe clinical signs in both cats and their body temperatures were above the normal range when they were presented for treatment. Haemolytic anaemia was confirmed in one case. To our knowledge, this is the first report of cerebral babesiosis in cats. On reverse line blot 18S rDNA PCR products obtained from both cats showed positive hybridization profiles with the B. lengau species-specific probe. The two partial parasite 18S rRNA gene sequences obtained, showed high sequence similarity (99.9%) to B. lengau. In a representative tree constructed by the neighbor-joining method using the two-parameter model of Kimura the two obtained partial 18S rDNA sequences and that of B. lengau formed a monophyletic group with B. conradae and sequences previously isolated from humans and wildlife in the western USA.

Conclusion: All clinical cases of feline babesiosis in South Africa are not necessarily caused by B. felis. Other piroplasms, e.g. B. lengau, may be incriminated in clinical cases, especially those occurring outside the known endemic area.

Item ID: 47832
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1756-3305
Keywords: Babesia lengau, cerebral babesiosis, feline babesiosis, haemolytic anaemia
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© 2013 Bosman et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa
Projects and Grants: NRF GUN 2069496
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 07:38
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070708 Veterinary Parasitology @ 100%
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