5 Easy Steps to Diagnose Babesiosis in Animals during Clinical Practice | Case Study

5 Easy Steps to Diagnose Babesiosis in Animals during Clinical Practice

It doesn’t matter what treatment strategy you choose if you can’t determine the cause of an illness. So in this article, we will talk about how to diagnose babesiosis in animals during clinical practice using 5 easy steps.

If you are unsure of what babesiosis is, its causes, or the available treatments, please read this article first before coming for a better understanding.

Let’s make a fictitious case to clarify things.

Hypothetical Case

The owner brings a two-year-old cow to the clinic for a checkup. The cow is thirsty, dehydrated, lethargic, and has blood in her feces. The primary veterinarian had given her deworming medication, some food, and subcutaneous fluids two days before she was brought. But nothing gets better.

We will see a step-by-step protocol to evaluate the patient and then make a diagnosis.

Step-1 Take Medical History

The greatest place to start in any case is with a history, which includes getting all the details from the patient’s owner. Information such as medical history, recent surgeries, drugs being used, history of deworming, vaccinations, and family history.

In present case scenario, the history given by the owner is

Medical history: Lethargy, bloody diarrhea, inappetence,

Surgical history: None

Medications: Recent deworming medication

Allergies: No known allergies

Family history: Not known

Social history: Not known

Step-2 Perform Physical Examination

Physical examination refers to checking the patient out thoroughly, trying to check every system, from head to toe. Start by performing a general assessment from a distance to assess the appearance, behavior, and presence of any anomalies in the animals. Then check for any abnormalities with HEENT (head, ear, eyes, nose, and throat). Next, take TPRW ( temperature, pulse, respiration rate, and weight). Now, examine each of the body’s organ systems, such as (respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, nervous, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary).

In this case, lets suppose the physical examination is done and the observations are:

General appearance: unresponsive, and drowsy,

Vital indicators
Temp. 103 °F
Beats per minute: 120
breathing: 30/min
Size: 200kg (440lb)

Skin: A little bit yellow in tone.

HEENT: Pale mucous membranes ears and eyes are healthy. No mouth lesions, submandibular lymphadenopathy, or eye discharge were seen.

Pulmonary: Eupneic has normal lung sounds in the lungs.

Cardiovascular: No arrhythmias or pulse deficits; capillary refill time >2 sec.

Gastrointestinal: There are still some, but fewer gut noises. Soft and swollen but not sore abdomen.

Genitourinary: No voiding was seen.

Musculoskeletal System: Normal

Neurologic: Unassessed

Step-3 Do Lab Diagnostic Testing

According to history and physical examination, go for relevant lab tests. In this case which tests you will prefer? First, you must have a basic knowledge that diagnostic testing normally revolves around the following tests.

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Blood Chemistry Profile (BCP)
  • Urinalysis (Urine test)
  • Fecal Test
  • Urine Culture

Other tests according to history like in the above case we can suspect such diseases in which blood in feces are present like Bacillary Hemoglobinuria, Babesiosis, Theliriosis, Clostridium Prinfringes type A, and Nitrite Poisonings.

In above case scenario, A BCP is important in this case to evaluate electrolyte status and organ function. CBC should be evaluated for anemia because of pale mucus membranes. Urinalysis is necessary to fully evaluate organ function, especially renal. The cause of the diarrhea is not known at this time, and a fecal examination will help determine this.

Step-4 Check the Lab reports

Let’s suppose the lab tests are. Values are hypothetical just for understanding purposes.

Urine: Normal

Stool: Negative for clostridium
CBC: We just mention only those that are needed. Other than that everything in CBC is normal.

Hematocrit (%)5.537–55
Hemoglobin (g/dL)
RBCs (x106/µL)

Comments: Anisocytosis 1+; intraerythrocytic inclusions noted.

Step-5 Time to Decide what’s the reason and take actions

 Evaluation of blood smear to identify the intraerythrocytic inclusions

The above picture indicates that somewhat is present in the RBCs. Now it can be Howel Jolly’s body or maybe babesia. How you can differentiate? Howel bodies are little fragments of RBCs nucleus, and round darker. The above picture is babesia.

Now it’s confirmed that it’s the case of babesiosis. For treatment options, you can look at how to treat and prevent babesiosis in animals.

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