Antiprotozoal treatment of canine babesiosis

Vet Parasitol. 2018 Apr 30;254:58-63. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2018.03.001. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


Canine babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by several Babesia spp. which have different susceptebility to anti-protozoal drugs. A few drugs and drug combinations are used in the treatment of canine babesiosis often without complete parasite elimination leaving treated dogs as carriers which could relapse with clinical disease and also transmit infection further. Although the large form canine babesial species Babesia canis, Babesia vogeli and Babesia rossi are sensitive to the aromatic diamidines imidocarb dipropionate and diminazene aceturate, small form species such as Babesia gibsoni, Babesia conradae and Babesia vulpes (Theileria annae) are relatively resistant to these drugs and are treated with the combination of the hydroxynaphthoquinone atovaquone and the antibiotic azithromycin. Azithromycin and other antibiotics that have anti-protozoal properties target the apicoplast, a relict plastid found in protozoa, and exert a delayed death effect. The triple combination of clindamycin, diminazene aceturate and imidocarb dipropionate is also effective against B. gibsoni and used to treat atovaquone-resistant strains of this species. Novel drugs and the synergistic effects of drug combinations against Babesia infection should be explored further to find new treatments for canine babesiosis.

Keywords: Apicoplast; Atovaquone; Azithromycin; Buparvaquone; Diminazene aceturate; Imidocarb dipropionate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Babesia / drug effects
  • Babesiosis / drug therapy*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dogs


  • Antiprotozoal Agents