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A drug completely eliminates Babesia caballi from horses

A drug commonly used to treat cattle and sometimes dogs for a blood parasite can, at a relatively high dose, completely eliminate the parasite Babesia caballi from horses, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have discovered.

B. caballi, a blood parasite transmitted by ticks, is one of the culprits behind the disease babesiosis in horses. Equine babesiosis is also caused by another blood parasite called Babesia (Theileria) equi. The drug imidocarb dipropionate has been used in the United States for many years to treat diseases like Texas fever, also referred to as cattle fever or babesiosis in cattle.

In response to the needs of U.S. veterinarians, research leader Don Knowles and his colleagues at the ARS Animal Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Wash., studied the effectiveness of the drug in horses. They found that a relatively high dose of the drug not only eliminated B. caballi, but also left the horses incapable of transmitting babesiosis.

Though the high dose of the drug is generally well-tolerated by horses, some side effects include stomach upset and diarrhea. Similar collaborative research is being conducted concerning the effectiveness of imidocarb and other potential drugs on B. (Theileria) equi.

by S. C.
01 october 2009, Technical Area > Science News