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Clinical, morphological, and molecular characterization of an undetermined Babesia species in a maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus)

Wasserkrug Naor, Adi, Lindemann, Dana M., Schreeg, Megan E., Marr, Henry S., Birkenheuer, Adam J., Carpenter, James W., Ryseff, Julia K.
Ticks and tick-borne diseases 2019 v.10 no.1 pp. 124-126
Babesia, Chrysocyon brachyurus, Procyon lotor, alanine transaminase, anemia, azithromycin, babesiosis, blood sampling, blood serum, blood transfusion, case studies, creatine kinase, erythrocytes, females, imidocarb, inclusion bodies, jaundice, melting, morbidity, mortality, mucosa, multilocus sequence typing, polymerase chain reaction, sodium chloride, temperature, thrombocytopenia, ticks, uremia, zoos, North America
A possible novel Babesia species infection of a maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) was first reported in 2012. The current case details a confirmed report of a maned wolf with infection by an undetermined species of Babesia. As the mortality and morbidity of babesiosis is high, this may become a significant concern to captive maned wolves, which are considered a near-threatened species by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The aim of this study is to report the clinical, morphological and molecular characterization of this Babesia species. A 2.5-year-old, intact female maned wolf was found laterally recumbent with pale mucous membranes and jaundice the morning of presentation. Hematological and serum biochemical data were consistent with babesiosis and showed a regenerative severe anemia, leukocytosis, thrombocytopenia, hyperbilirubinemia, azotemia, increased creatine phosphokinase and increase alanine aminotransferase. On blood film review, inclusion bodies were seen in the red blood cells with cytomorphological features that were most consistent with a small form Babesia species. A blood sample was sent for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and multi-locus sequence analyses. These findings suggested a unique Babesia species that is most closely related to a Babesia species (Babesia sp. AJB-2006) that has been found to infect raccoons (Procyon lotor) in North America. Although the cytomorphological features of the piroplasms and the clinical presentation were similar in both the current and 2012 case, when comparing the 18S melt curve temperature of the two Babesia isolates, the peak temperature was different. Unfortunately, genetic material from the 2012 case was not available so comparison of multi-locus gene sequences could not be performed, excluding the possibility to definitively state if the Babesia spp. from both cases were distinct from each other. The maned wolf was treated with a whole blood transfusion, dexamethazone (0.28 mg/kg IM), azithromycin (10 mg/kg in NaCl SC), atavaquone (1.5 cc PO), and 2 imidocarb (6.6 mg/kg IM) injections, and clinically improved. These findings demonstrate the need to further characterize the molecular and epidemiological differences of the Babesia species in this case report and the Babesia species known to infect raccoons.