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Clinical features of hepatozoonosis in dogs and cats

02 February 2023
6 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 1
Figure 1. Romanowsky-stained blood smear showing Hepatozoon canis gamont in a neutrophil (1000X). - From Traverso and Venco (2018).


Canine and feline vector-borne diseases are emerging diseases caused by a multitude of worldwide distributed pathogens (bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminths) and transmitted by ectoparasites (ticks, fleas, sandflies and mosquitoes). They are important because of their increasing prevalence and distribution, great pathogenic potential in companion animals and the zoonotic potential of some of them. Among vector-borne diseases, hepatozoonosis is a neglected but emerging tick-borne disease of dogs and cats. It is caused by different protozoa species belonging to the genus Hepatozoon and is characterized by variable clinical pictures, from subclinical and subtle to potentially life-threatening signs. Data on the biology, epidemiology, clinical features and treatment of canine and feline hepatozoonosis are still limited and the disease is often overlooked in clinical settings. This article discusses the current literature on clinical aspects of canine and feline hepatozoonosis, to increase awareness of this disease.

Vector-borne diseases of dogs and cats transmitted by arthropods, e.g. fleas, ticks, sandflies and mosquitoes, are caused by infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths. These agents may cause subclinical to potentially fatal clinical pictures and some have a zoonotic potential. Despite vector-borne diseases being of primary relevance in small animal medicine, some of them are still overlooked and underestimated. This is the case for canine and feline hepatozoonosis, which is an emerging vector-borne disease caused by different protozoa species of the genus Hepatozoon (Baneth, 2011; Amoli et al, 2012). Species within this genus are not strictly species-specific, as Hepatozoon americanum infects dogs, Hepatozoon felis and Hepatozoon silvestris infect cats, while Hepatozoon canis (the most widely known species) infects both animals (Baneth, 2011; Giannelli et al, 2017; Hodžić et al, 2017; Guo et al, 2020; Pacifico et al, 2020; Morelli et al, 2021).

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