Serological evidence for Babesia canis infection of horses and an endemic focus of B. caballi in Hungary

S. Hornok, Renate Edelhofer, G. Földvári, Anja Joachim, R. Farkas

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In order to evaluate the seroconversion of horses to Babesia caballi and B. canis in Hungary, blood samples were collected from 371 animals on 23 different locations of the country. The presence of antibodies to B. caballi was screened with a competitive ELISA. All 29 positive samples came from one region (the Hortobágy). The prevalence of infection did not show correlation with sexes, and reached 100% in the age group of 2-5 years. Babesia canis-specific antibodies were demonstrated by IFAT in 6.74% of animals kept in 7 regions. The titres were low or medium level (1:40 to 1:160), indicating that the horses had previously been exposed to this piroplasm, but their infection must have been limited. The highest seropositivity rate was observed in the age group of 3-4 years, and males (stallions and geldings) were significantly more frequently infected than females. However, neither B. caballi nor B. canis could be identified in the peripheral blood samples of infected horses by PCR. Since most of the B. caballi-positive horses remained negative in the B. canis IFAT, whereas seroconversion solely to B. canis was detected in several regions of the country, serological cross-reaction between the two species can be discounted. This is the first serological evidence of horses being naturally infected with B. canis, supporting the view that piroplasms are less host specific than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-500
Number of pages10
JournalActa veterinaria Hungarica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007



  • Babesia caballi
  • Babesia canis
  • Horse babesiosis
  • Hungary
  • Seroprevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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