Detection and identification of blood-borne infections in dogs in Nigeria using light microscopy and the polymerase chain reaction

Anise N. Happi, Angela J. Toepp, C. A. Ugwu, Christine A. Petersen, Jane E Sykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Many sick dogs brought to the University of Ibadan Veterinary Teaching Hospital (UIVTH) are infested with ticks and are anemic. Up until recently, light microscopy (LM) has been the only available means used for detection of blood-borne infections. In other parts of the world, PCR-based assays been used as a gold standard for accurate diagnosis of blood-borne infections. In this study, we used LM and broad-spectrum rRNA gene PCR-based assays on 116 blood samples from dogs brought to the UIVTH for detection of the 18S rRNA gene of Babesia and the 16S rRNA genes of Ehrlichia and hemotropic mycoplasmas. The relationship between clinicopathological findings and PCR results was evaluated. Age, sex, presence of ticks, anemia, co-infection status, and fever were also assessed in relation to PCR positivity to determine the risk factors using stepwise logistic regression analyses. Light microscopic examination revealed an overall prevalence of infection of 14.7% (17/116). Organisms detected were Babesia canis (3.5%), Ehrlichia canis (10.3%) and Trypanosoma congolense (0.9%) and a single co-infection with Babesia canis and Ehrlichia canis (0.9%). PCR analysis revealed 89/116 (76.7%) positive samples. Infections with 1, 2 and 3 infectious agents occurred in 49 (55.1%), 36 (40.4%) and 4 (4.5%) samples, respectively. Specifically, among the 89 PCR positive samples, Babesia spp. (85.4%) was the most abundant infection followed by Ehrlichia spp. (46.1%) and hemoplasmas (13.5%). Sequencing of PCR products identified two samples (1.7%) that contained Hepatozoon canis DNA. Sequencing of hemoplasma positive samples identified ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobos’ in 0.8% of dogs. Using PCR, a 5-fold higher prevalence of blood-borne infections was found in the dogs (76.7%, 89/116) than with LM (14.7%, 17/116) alone” Dogs between 1 and 12 months were the most frequently infected with multiple agents (47.2% double and 50.0% triple infections). Male dogs had the highest prevalence of infection (80.4%) and more triple infections (75.0%). A total of 57.3% of infected dogs were anemic. Anemic dogs were 2.77 times more likely to test positive for Ehrlichia spp. (OR: 2.77 95% CI: 1.25–6.16) and dogs with ticks were 3.6 times more likely to test positive for hemoplasmas (OR = 3.60 95% CI: 1.05-12.38). This study underscores the abundance of blood-borne infections in dogs in Ibadan, Nigeria, which is underestimated using light microscopy. This is also the first evidence of existence of ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobos’ in a dog in Nigeria and in Africa. Consequently there is a need for molecular diagnostic facilities for routine screening of sick animals, as multiple infections were not found by light microscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Africa
  • Blood-borne pathogen
  • Dog
  • Molecular diagnosis
  • Mycoplasma haemobos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)


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