Piroplasmosis in Humans

Piroplasmosis Infections and Babesia in Dogs
Humans cannot contract Babesia from a dog
Piroplasmosis in Humans

Piroplasmosis in Humans

Human-Type Piroplasmosis

Even though the strains of Babesia that infect dogs do not harm humans, there are other strains of Babesia that can occupy the red blood cells of humans and result in Piroplasmosis. This disease can mirror malaria (including symptoms such as anemia, fever, chills, low organ function or failure, low platelet counts, and even death).  A number of different species of ticks carry the strain of Babesia that can affect humans, and instances of human Piroplasmosis have been documented in Asia, Australia, Europe, and The United States.

Australia had once been considered to be a Babesia-free continent…that is, until a 56-year-old man who had sustained kidney, bone, and liver injuries in a vehicle accident ended up in a hospital and developed what caregivers thought to be malaria. According to Murdoch University, he was treated for malaria – to no benefit. By the time doctors thought of Piroplasmosis, it was too late. Treated was begun, but the Australian man passed away only five days later. The treatment had come too late.

The Australian man’s plight puzzled his caregivers because there had never been a case of Piroplasmosis on their continent – or at least any that had been documented. Neither the man’s dog nor the man’s son was carrying the parasite. The man hadn’t left Australia in four decades, except to visit New Zealand (where no Piroplasmosis cases had ever been recorded).

In The United States, where Piroplasmosis has been a known threat, it has been found that the elderly are more prone to develop symptoms. A Massachusetts study found that with splenectomy, suppressed immunity, and advanced age, Babesia is more likely to cause severe or chronic symptoms – and often, once symptoms develop, death is not unusual. This same study also revealed that in Massachusetts alone, the number of documented Piroplasmosis cases increased two-fold in the year 2011.

The spread of Babesia among continents can only be attributed to humans, rodents, and birds that traverse oceans (and the ticks that ride along). This breakthrough thinking means that no human, no dog, no geographical area is immune. This makes Babesia and Piroplasmosis education, awareness, and prevention more important than ever.
Whether you have questions about Babesia or you are concerned that your dog may be displaying symptoms that point toward Piroplasmosis, we urge you to call 022 755 55 33 or contact Cabinet Veterinaire Online here.