A review of the small canine piroplasms from California: Babesia conradae in the literature

Anne M. Kjemtrup, Patricia A Conrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Small piroplasms as a cause of canine babesiosis in southern California were first documented in 1990. Initially these piroplasms were considered to be Babesia gibsoni, the only small Babesia parasite known to infect dogs at that time. In the following decade, the use of molecular analysis made it clear that small canine Babesia in fact are comprised of at least three distinct species, and the isolates from dogs in southern California were not B. gibsoni. Molecular, antigenic, and morphological characteristics of the southern California species of canine piroplasm supported naming it as a distinct species, Babesia conradae. The renaming of this species prompted this literature review of small canine piroplasms in California in order to clarify clinical, diagnostic, epidemiological, and molecular characteristics of B. conradae in comparison to other small canine piroplasms. Clinical symptoms of B. conradae are similar to those of B. gibsoni; however, B. conradae infections may be more pathogenic, resulting in higher parasitaemia and more pronounced anaemia when compared with B. gibsoni-infected dogs. The immunofluorescent antibody test is the most commonly used test to diagnose B. conradae. It is important to specify which small Babesia species to test for since there is little serological cross reactivity between the small canine Babesia antigens or cross-detection in the newer molecular tests. Molecular characterization of B. conradae, based principally on the 18S small subunit rRNA gene, and recently the second internal transcribed spacer region, demonstrate that B. conradae is most closely related to piroplasms recovered from humans and animals in the western United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 31 2006


  • Babesia conradae
  • Canine
  • Piroplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)


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