Babesia gibsoni parasite

8 May 2024

picture of a dog outside

Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating the detection of an exotic red blood cell parasite, Babesia gibsoni, in two dogs in Canterbury. Babesia gibsoni (B. gibsoni) is an unwanted and notifiable organism in New Zealand.

It is a protozoal parasite that causes red blood cells in dogs to rupture. It is widespread around the rest of the world, including Australia. While most infections with B. gibsoni are mild or subclinical, some can be severe. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has developed an information sheet for veterinarians with further details about B. gibsoni, which we encourage you to read. 

MPI is asking veterinarians to call its exotic pest and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66, if you have any suspected cases. 

As well as asking veterinarians to keep an eye out for clinical signs of B. gibsoni, MPI is testing dogs which have been in high risk contact with the known infected dog, and ensuring that veterinary clinical pathologists, who examine blood from dogs across Aotearoa, are on alert for the parasite.  

There is also an information sheet for dog owners to learn more about B. gibsoni and remind them to keep their dogs’ flea and tick treatments up-to-date to help protect them.