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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.80 n.2 Pretoria  2009




Comparison of Babesia rossi and Babesia canis isolates with emphasis on effects of vaccination with soluble parasite antigens: A review



T P M SchettersI, II; K MoubriII; B M CookeIII

IMicrobiology R&D Department, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, Boxmeer, the Netherlands
IILaboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, University of Montpellier I, Montpellier, France
IIIDepartment of Microbiology, Monash University, Victoria, Australia




Babesia canis and B. rossi are large Babesia species that infect dogs and cause clinical disease. The spectrum of disease is highly diverse with either parasite, but upon evaluation of field cases it has been suggested that in general B. rossi is more virulent than B. canis. This difference was also found in experimental infections using B. canis and B. rossi isolates and appeared to be related to a difference in parasitaemia. Whether this difference reflects the essential difference between B. canis and B. rossi species in general, or merely reflects the variability in virulence of individual isolates cannot be discerned. Comparative in vitro and in vivo studies revealed a number of qualitative differences between the B. canis and B. rossi isolates studied; however, more research is required to determine any causal relationship between in vitro and in vivo characteristics. Vaccination with a bivalent vaccine (containing soluble parasite antigen [SPA] from supernatants of in vitro cultures of B. canis and B. rossi) induced protection against clinical babesiosis upon challenge infection with either parasite. The dynamics of parasitaemia upon challenge infection of vaccinated animals indicated a biological difference between the B. canis and B. rossi isolates studied. Vaccinated dogs that were challenged with B. rossi parasites (2 isolates tested) effectively controlled parasitaemia. By contrast, in vaccinated dogs that were challenged with B. canis isolates (2 isolates tested) there was little or no effect on parasitaemia but levels of SPA in plasma were reduced. Apparently the nature of vaccine-induced immunity differs with respect to the challenge species.

Keywords: Babesia canis, Babesia rossi, immunity, pathogenesis, vaccine



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Received: July 2008
Accepted: March 2009



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