Tuesday, November 6, 2018

How Obscure Is Babesiosis Really? Mika's Story

When I was writing about Ted's Babesiosis, I kept wondering how obscure this tick-borne disease really is.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: How Obscure Is Babesiosis Really? Mika's Story

Mika was treated right around the corner, at a specialty hospital we used to go to.


Mika is a 6-year-old Great Dane. Beautiful, lovable, energetic. She was adopted from the US several years ago and only brought her family love and joy.

She ended up at the hospital because of lethargy and high fever.

Blood work showed low levels of all red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Mika's bone marrow was doing its job, though, and the blood cell levels evened out relatively quickly on their own.

Mika's liver and spleen were enlarged. Given her enlarged spleen, was she bleeding internally?

Mika was scheduled to have her spleen removed and liver biopsied.


However, neither the spleen or liver tissues showed any disease. Good news that Mika didn't have nether hemangiosarcoma, hemangioma, or anything wrong with her liver. Perhaps it was just some bug she came down with and her immune system dealt with it?

Mika was in good shape and could return home.

A month later, however, Mika was back at the hospital with the same symptoms - fever and lethargy.


Mika was anemic and her bilirubin was elevated. What has been destroying Mika's blood cells?

And there it reared its ugly head--Babesia gibsoni.


"Canine babesiosis is a tick borne disease caused by a protozoan blood parasite. Babesiosis is characterized by a hemolytic anemia, fever and splenomegaly. Some infections are subclinical while others are life threatening." 


Finding the little buggers under the microscope is mostly sheer luck and not a good idea to rely on that for diagnosis. There are tests that are much more likely to be successful in diagnosing this, such as PCR assays.

Once she received the treatment, Mika recovered quickly and is doing well. She might have lost a perfectly good spleen but kept her life.

Perhaps Babesia should be higher on the differential diagnoses list.

Original story:
Well, now You Have Ticked Me Off

Further reading:
Babesia gibsoni: An Emerging Pathogen in Dogs



Do you have a story to share?
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What were the first signs you noticed? How did your dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.

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Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

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Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

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