A six-month-old female European shorthair cat from north-western Spain died after being hospitalized for two days. This pregnant animal showed anorexia, lethargy, weakness, jaundice, and fever with increased respiratory and heart rates. Haematological analysis revealed haemolytic regenerative anaemia, thrombocytopenia, and leukocytosis.
The presence of piroplasms was assessed using a PCR targeting the 18S rRNA gene of Babesia spp. and Theileria spp.; the sample resulted positive and B. canis was identified by DNA sequence analysis. The possible existence of co-infections with other vector-borne pathogens such as Anaplasma spp., Bartonella spp., Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., Cytauxzoon spp., Ehrlichia spp., Hepatozoon canis, Mycoplasma spp. or Rickettsia spp. was excluded by qPCR.
The results from this study, together with previous reports on Babesia infections in cats from Europe, suggest that feline babesiosis should be included in the differential diagnosis of animals with anaemia, thrombocytopenia, anorexia and lethargy, especially in young or immunocompromised animals from endemic areas for canine babesiosis.