Babesia caballi: Molecular diagnosis (PCR)


Babesia caballi is a protozoan parasite of the genus Chromalveolata, family Babesiidae, causing equine piroplasmosis (EP), or babesiosis in horses, but they have also recorded isolated cases of infection in donkeys, mules and zebras. The disease is considered endemic in Africa, Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. USA It has not been considered an endemic region. Infection may occur simultaneously with Theileria equi (formerly Babesia equi), a microorganism which is also responsible for equine piroplasmosis (EP).

The life cycle of this organism involves an intermediate host where it matures, usually ticks and other biting insects that transmit the infection during their feeding. However, the disease can be transmitted via shared needles, surgical equipment and blood contamination. Babesia caballi develops inside the host RBCs.

Typically, clinical signs appear between 5 and 30 days after the animal has been infected with the parasite. However, you can also stay dormant and cause no apparent sign. In horses, the transmission of Babesia caballi causes a disease that can cause severe hemolytic anemia and vasculitis that requires euthanasia of animals. Affected horses show unspecific signs may be similar to other diseases such as fever, depression, anorexia, pale mucous membranes, jaundice, ataxia and edema of the extremities or along the abdomen. In addition, urine or discolored reddish brown color can be observed. Laboratory abnormalities generally include anemia and thrombocytopenia. Babesia - infected animals are carriers for life.


Recommended tests for diagnosis:


The diagnosis is based on microscopic identification of parasites in blood smears immunosorbent assay (ELISA), or molecular diagnostic methods (PCR).

In some infected and carriers of Babesia caballi animals has not been identified parasitaemia in blood smears, making molecular diagnosis as more sensitive assay for identification is recommended.

Tests in IVAMI:


  • Microscopic examination for observation of parasites in blood smears.
  • Molecular diagnosis (PCR), to detect DNA of Babesia caballi.

Recommended sample:


  • Whole blood collected with EDTA (2 to 5 mL).

Preservation and shipment of sample:


  • Refrigerated (preferred) for less than 2 days (microscopy and / or PCR).
  • Frozen: more than 2 days (for PCR).


Delivery term:


  • Microscopic examination: 24 hours.
  • Molecular diagnosis (PCR): 24 to 48 hours.

Cost of the test: