Prevalence and co-infection of mosquito- and tick-borne pathogens in domestic dogs suspected for canine babesiosis in Lithuania

  • Jana Radzijevskaja
  • Dovilė Tamoliūnaitė
  • Vytautas Sabūnas
  • Asta Aleksandravičienė
  • Algimantas Paulauskas
Keywords: domestic dogs, Babesia canis, Dirofilaria repens, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Lithuania


During the past decade, vector-borne diseases (VBDs) have been continuously spreading in Europe, including Lithuania. VBDs are caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses transmitted by the bite of hematophagous arthropods (mainly ticks and mosquitoes). Canine vector-borne diseases (CVBDs) are a growing global threat. Since the majority of these diseases have a zoonotic potential, their management requires a multidisciplinary approach. Global warming and simplified rules for travelling with animal companions provide ideal conditions for the circulation and spreading of vector-borne pathogens in non-endemic geographical regions. Information on CVBD agents at the local and regional levels allows veterinarians to better recognize the pathogens that can affect dogs, thus facilitating diagnosis and treatment. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence and co-infection of mosquito- and tick-borne pathogens in domestic dogs using molecular DNA analysis methods. Blood samples were collected from dogs presented at different veterinary clinics in six regions of Lithuania. A total of 100 blood samples from dogs suspected for canine babesiosis were screened for the presence of tick-borne pathogens Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia spp., Babesia canis and mosquito-borne pathogens Dirofilaria spp. Results of real-time PCR analysis demonstrated the presence of D. repens in 23.0%, A. phagocytophilum in 35.0%, Babesia spp. in 81.0%, and Borrelia spp. in 19.0% of examined dogs. Double, triple, or even quadruple co-infections were detected. The present study is the first investigation of multiple vector-borne pathogens in dogs from Lithuania using molecular detection methods. Our findings demonstrate a high infection rate of vector-borne pathogens in dogs and suggest that co-infections with anaplasmosis, borreliosis, babesiosis, and dirofilariosis in dogs are expected in Lithuania.