n Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research - Vitamin D status in dogs with babesiosis - original research

Volume 86 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0030-2465
  • E-ISSN: 2219-0635



Canine babesiosis is a virulent infection of dogs in South Africa caused principally by Babesia rossi. Hypovitaminosis D has been reported in a wide range of infectious diseases in humans and dogs, and low vitamin D status has been associated with poor clinical outcomes. However, the relationship between vitamin D status and canine babesiosis has not been investigated. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between the presence and severity of B. rossi infection and vitamin D status of infected dogs. Owners with dogs with a confirmed diagnosis of B. rossi infection and of healthy control dogs were invited to enrol onto the study. Vitamin D status was assessed by measurement of serum concentrations of the major circulating vitamin D metabolite, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D). Dogs with babesiosis (n = 34) had significantly lower mean serum 25(OH)D concentrations than healthy dogs (n = 24) (37.76 ± 21.25 vs. 74.2 ± 20.28 nmol/L). The effect of babesiosis on serum 25(OH)D concentrations was still significant after adjusting for any effect of age, body weight and sex. There was a negative relationship between serum 25(OH) D concentrations and disease severity in dogs with babesiosis. Serum concentrations of creatinine and alanine aminotransferase and time to last meal were not associated with serum 25(OH)D concentrations in dogs with babesiosis. In conclusion, dogs with Babesia rossi infections had lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations than healthy dogs. The inverse correlation between 25(OH)D concentrations and the clinical severity score indicate that hypovitaminosis D might be a helpful additional indicator of disease severity.

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