Canine Babesiosis: Epidemiological, Molecular and Therapeutic Investigations

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Title: Canine Babesiosis: Epidemiological, Molecular and Therapeutic Investigations
Author: Birkenheuer, Adam Joseph
Advisors: Edward B. Breitschwerdt, Committee Chair
Michael G. Levy, Committee Member
Mary B. Tompkins, Committee Member
Wayne A. Tompkins, Committee Member
Abstract: Canine babesiosis is an emerging infectious disease in the United States (US). An epidemic of Babesia gibsoni infections in the US was identified. An association between dog breed and B. gibsoni infections was detected. Babesia gibsoni-infected dogs were more likely to be American pit bull terriers and B. canis vogeli infected dogs were more likely to be greyhounds. An association between a recent dog bite and B. gibsoni infection was detected, implicating direct dog-to-dog transmission as a route of infection in the US. Several genes from canine Babesia spp. were characterized, including 18S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS), cytochrome B (cytB), and rhoptry-associated protein-1 (RAP-1). These genetic data were used to develop a sensitive and specific diagnostic semi-nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for canine babesiosis. Using this assay, a novel large Babesia organism was identified in a blood sample obtained from a clinical patient. Molecular and phylogenetic characterization of this large Babesia spp. determined that it was most closely related to B. bigemina. Lastly, an atovaquone and azithromycin drug combination was shown to be the first treatment to clear canine B. gibsoni infections.
Date: 2004-04-21
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Immunology

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