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Vet Parasitol. 1997 Apr;69(1-2):1-8.

Equine babesiosis associated with strenuous exercise: clinical and pathological studies in Jordan.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan.


Clinical, haematological and pathological studies were undertaken in Jordan in a stud of 103 racing horses clinically suffering from babesiosis and apparently healthy animals. Out of 47 horses which participated in strenuous exercise, three mares showed sudden onset of immobility and reluctance to move and two mares died. Clinical examination revealed that these five horses (group 1) had fever, anorexia, weakness and severe icterus and, in two mares, haemoglobinuria. Haematological examination revealed that all five horses were heavily parasitized with Babesia equi. This was also found in four horses (group 2) with no evidence of clinical babesiosis. In group 3 (94 horses), neither clinical signs nor B. equi were observed in the blood. The horses in group 1 and 2 recovered after treatment with imidocarb. When the mean values of white blood cell count, red blood cell count, haemoglobin and packed cell volume in group 1 were compared with those for groups 2 and 3, a significant difference was found (P < 0.05). A significant difference was also found when the mean values were compared before and after treatment. Examination of serum total protein, bilirubin and serum enzymes revealed a significant decrease in the mean value of total serum protein (P < 0.05), and a significant increase in the mean values of bilirubin (P < 0.05) in group 1 compared to groups 2 and 3. A significant elevation in the mean value of aspartate aminotransaminase, gamma-glutamyltransferase and creatine phosphokinase and a substantial elevation in the mean value of alkaline phosphatase was also observed in group 1 compared to groups 2 and 3. Postmortem examination of the dead horses showed that the animals had icterus, hepatomegaly and full urinary bladder with deep-red urine. Histopathological examination of the liver showed massive centrilobular degeneration and necrosis. The bile canaliculi and bile ducts were prominent and plugged with dark-brown to canary-coloured bile pigments. The lungs had congestion, oedema, and thrombosis of pulmonary veins. Our results suggest that the horses suffered from B. equal with clinical manifestation following exercise. The clinical, haematological and pathological findings indicate that the animals suffered from haemolytic anaemia which responded to imidocarb therapy.

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