Can Your Dog or Cat Catch Babesiosis?
By Rob Lester
Babesiosis, also called piroplasmosis, is a type of anemia caused by parasites that can be transmitted to dogs or cats by ticks. It can also be transmitted by direct blood contact, such as when dogs fight with each other, and it can be transmitted from a mother to pups or kittens. Anemia, or a shortage of red blood cells, leads to other symptoms such as fever, low energy levels, and in severe cases, shock and death. If your cat or dog develops intermittent fever, anorexia, or loses energy rapidly, and especially if you live in an area where ticks are common, you should consider the possibility that your pet has babesiosis.
The disease is spread to dogs by two different species of ticks and to cats by several species. It is found in North and South American as well as Africa and Asia. Young dogs and cats are more likely to be infected than older animals, since some immunity can develop as cats and dogs mature. However, infections in older animals are more likely to be fatal. The most severe cases tend to occur in uninfected older animals who are brought into an area in which the disease occurs after living in a disease-free area previously. Babesiosis is especially common in Pit Bull terriers and in any dogs or cats with a history of fighting.