Babesiosis a Protozoan Borne parasitic Disease in Dairy Industry and its Prevention Protocol

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Livestock industry is the integral part of agriculture. In Pakistan round about 65% peoples are directly or indirectly connected with the agriculture background from which they meet their daily needs. In Pakistan Livestock have great socio-economic importance because many small Dairy holder farmers are earning by selling milk, meat and animals. Our livestock industry is at top due to most of the peoples having direct livelihood on animals by products like milk, meat eggs as well sale of animals. The livestock industry is at risk due to many diseases of infectious origin. Protozoan born parasitic diseases like Theileriasis, Babesiasis, Trypanosomiasis, Anaplasmosis, Toxoplasmosis etc. are heavily important on contexts of economics, livestock and public health. Among all protozoan diseases Babesiosis is a disease of vulnerable and vital importance that is commonly termed as Red Water Fever in field conditions.

Babesiosis is a tick transmitted haemoprotozoan infection of cattle, buffalo, horse, sheep, goats and wild animals. There are over 100 species of Babesia identified however only a handful species have been documented as pathogenic in humans. People who contact Babesiosis suffer from malaria-like symptoms. As a result malaria is a common mis-diagnosis for the disease. The disease is most common in exotic and cross breeds. In cattle highest infection rate is observed in 6-12 month of age. It has been recorded in 14 days old cow calf in sub-acute manner. Ticks of the family lxodidae are the main source of transmition during hot and humid season via transovarian as well as trans-stadial transmission.

The disease is transmitted under natural condition through ticks. Riphiciphelus microplus and R.annulatus are the major vector of bovine .Babesiosis is transmitted by Riphiciphelus, haemaphysalis, Dermacentor and Ixodes ticks also. In general the disease is transmitted transovarially and transtadially. It is also transmitted by parenteral injection of infected blood or organ emulsion or blood transfusion. Blood donor should be negative for Babesiasis

Life cycle of Babesiosis

The life cycle of Babesiosis starts by infection of hard ticks Riphiciphelus microplus. The protozoa Babesia is transmitted in host blood when ticks feeds on blood of cattle .The protozoa enter to the Red blood cells via saliva. In RBCs the parasite proliferates by asexual reproduction and produces multiple copies. The cell increase in size and cell burst releases many merozoites in blood that further attack on the next RBCs and micro and macro gametes formation occur so on multiplication continues. The infected RBCs are again fed by ticks by blood from host and macro as well micro gametes will go into gametogenesis to form zygote in the mid-gut of tick. The ultimately developmental stage of the zygote convert into sporozoite in salivary gland of the ticks. The sporozoite that is final stage shifted again by saliva during feeding on host blood from ticks. In this way the whole life cycle of Babesiosis continue throughout the season.

Clinical Signs of the Disease

The incubation period varies depending on the species of babes involved and it ranges from 5-10 days. Multiplication of protozoa occurs in peripheral vessels and there is intravascular hemolysis. It has been pointed out that proteolytic enzymes are liberated from the infected erythrocytes. These enzymes interact with components of blood and thus to increased. Erythrocytic fragility, hypotensive shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation. It is also postulated that coating of R.B.C by parasitic antigen neutralizes the normal surface charge and there by favors auto agglutination of R.B.C. Complete Anorexia, Ruminal atony, anemia, decrease body weight, constipation, high fever 105F to 106F, Parasitemia, Haemoglobinurea are the main clinical attributes. Death occur due to anemic anoxia.

Diagnosis of Disease

History,   Clinical signs-Haemoglobinurea and high fever are the cardinal sign, Examination of blood smear, ELISA, PCR are helpful tools for diagnosis of disease.

Treatment and control program

  1. Imidocarb Dipropionate (Imizol @ 1ml/40kg) this is used @ 2.5 mg/kg body weight subcutaneously. Dog has been treated with imidocarb 3-6 mg/kg body weight
  2. Diminazine @ 12 mg/kg body weight by deep intramuscular
  3. Analgesic, antipyretic for control of fever and abdominal pain
  4. Iron sulphate intravenously
  5. Whole blood therapy to correct severe anemia
  6. Avoid Ixodes habitat and contact with tick-infested vegetation
  7. Wear clothing consisting of a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and boots
  8. Use a repellent and treat clothing with permethrin.
  9. Development of tick resistant breeds of cattle that would resist the ticks like Sahiwal breeds.
  10. Avoid hot and humid environment that is suitable for tick survival.
  11. Continuous usage of permethrin spray in craves send services in the shed of animal’s favors satisfactory results.

Babesiosis is the Major threat in livestock industry during summer season in which arthropod born vector activity is high. So we can avoid such huge losses in terms of production (Milk production, Meat, Mutton) Reproduction (calving interval, Abortion, Mummification, Maceration problems) and Mortality Rates   by following the above mentioned control strategies.

This article is collectively authored by Dr. Rashid Fayyaz*, Dr. Rao Zahid Abbas, Dr. Zohaib Saeed, Dr. Asghar Abbas.


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