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Vet Parasitol. 2006 May 31;138(1-2):147-60. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Chemotherapy against babesiosis.

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  • 1Dynamique Moléculaire des Interactions Membranaires, UMR 5539 CNRS/Université Montpellier II, Case 107, Place Eugène bataillon, F-34095 Montpellier Cedex 5, France. vial-h@univ-montp2.fr


Babesiosis is caused by a haemotropic protozoal parasite of the genus Babesia, member of the phylum Apicomplexa and transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. There are many Babesia species affecting livestock, dogs, horses and rodents which are of economic significance. Infections can occur without producing symptoms, but babesiosis may also be severe and sometimes fatal caused by the intraerythrocytic parasite development. The disease can cause fever, fatigue and haemolytic anemia lasting from several days to several months. There are a number of effective babesiacides, but imidocarb dipropionate (which consistently clears the parasitaemia; often the only available drug on the market) and diminazene aceturate are the most widely used. Some Babesia spp. can infect humans, particularly Babesia microti and Babesia divergens, and human babesiosis is a significant emerging tick-borne zoonotic disease. Clinical manifestations differ markedly between European and North American diseases. In clinical cases, a combination of clindamycin and quinine is administered as the standard treatment, but also administration of atovaquone-azithromycin is successful. Supportive therapy such as intravenous fluids and blood transfusions are employed when necessary. More specific fast-acting new treatments for babesiosis have now to be developed. This should be facilitated by the knowledge of the Babesia spp. genome and increased interest for this malaria-like parasite.

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