Southern Cross Vets in Port Elizabeth
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CANINE BILIARY (BABESIOSIS)

Biliary is a serious tick-borne disease of dogs that occurs mostly in summer. However, Port Elizabeth is a frost-free area so ticks do not disappear totally in winter making it possible for biliary to occur throughout the year.

The biliary parasite is transmitted to the dog via the tick's saliva when an infected tick bites a dog. The parasite enters red blood cells (RBC) where it divides rapidly. This can cause the RBC to burst, or the RBC is removed from circulation by the dog's immune system.


What should I look out for?
The net effect is that your dog becomes anaemic and feverish. Typically a dog with biliary will:

  be lethargic
  be inappetant
  be feverish
  have pale gums
This occurs 10-21 days after being bitten by a tick.

What treatment is available?
Treatment of biliary is aimed at killing the parasite, reversing the anaemia and supporting the liver and kidneys because the breakdown products of destroyed RBCs must be eliminated by these important organs in the body. In severe cases a drip or even a blood transfusion may be required to treat this disease.

What should I do to try and prevent my dog contracting biliary?
A vaccine is available against biliary but it is expensive and your dog can still contract biliary though with much milder symptoms. Tick control is the mainstay of biliary prevention. There are several products available to control ticks, in the form of pour ons, sprays and tick collars.
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