Dogs are commonly used for hunting in Nigeria and they may harbour parasites without showing any clinical features. Babesiosis is a worldwide, tick-borne, protozoal haemoparasitic disease caused by parasites of genus Babesia.
This study assessed by means of microscopy and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), the presence of Babesia species in 109 indigenous Nigerian hunting dogs.
One hundred and nine hunting dogs were sampled from 21 different locations, from May 2014 to March 2015 with ages ranging from less than 1 to greater than 6 years. The average weight of the dogs studied was 12.20±0.33kg with the mean Packed Cell Volume (PCV) of 35.2±0.86% and mean age of 3.01±0.23 years. Using microscopy 24 (22%) of the dogs were positive for Babesia species. There were no statistically significant differences in the gender (p=0.84), age (p= 0.71), weight (p= 0.45) and PCV (p=0.87) of infected and non-infected dogs. With PCR assay, 52 (47.7%) of the sampled dogs were positive to Babesia spp. Of which 18 (34.6%) were male and 34(65.4%) were females. There were no statistical significance between the presence of Babesia spp. and sex (p=0.11) also with PCV (p=0.06) of hunting dogs but there were significant differences in their ages (p=0.04) and weights (p= 0.01)
Using PCR as a gold standard the specificity and sensitivity of microscopy for detecting Babesia were 77.2% and 21.2 % respectively. The positive predictive value for microscopy was 45.8% while the negative predictive value was 51.8% with a diagnostic accuracy of 50%. The implication of the presence of the parasite in the study areas is discussed.
Hunting dogs, Babesia species, prevalence, Microscopy, PCR.