Natural Besnoitia besnoiti infections in cattle: hematological alterations and changes in serum chemistry and enzyme activities
Background The emerging disease bovine besnoitiosis is caused by the apicomplexan parasite Besnoitia besnoiti. Clinical signs of acute besnoitiosis are pyrexia, anorexia and subcutaneous edema. In subacute and chronic besnoitiosis parasitic cysts arise in a variety of tissues and affected cattle display skin lesions and weight loss. In all stages of bovine besnoitiosis, lesions can be found in many organ systems and therefore presumably alter a variety of laboratory parameters. In this study, the impact of naturally acquired acute, subacute and chronic bovine besnoitiosis on hematologic parameters, serum chemistry, and enzyme activities was investigated. Laboratory parameters of two Simmental heifers and two Limousin cows were monitored during acute, subacute and chronic besnoitiosis and in another Simmental heifer during subclinical besnoitiosis. To determine aberrations of laboratory parameters, values were compared with reference ranges obtained from B. besnoiti negative Simmentals (224 samples of nine animals) and Limousins (41 animals). Further, laboratory parameters of B. besnoiti seropositive Limousin cows (54 animals; 32 of these showing clinical signs) and healthy B. besnoiti seronegative Limousin cows (41 animals) were compared. Results During acute and subacute besnoitiosis, a reduction of leukocyte and erythrocyte concentrations, hematocrit, serum albumin, urea, magnesium, and calcium concentrations were observed. Serum total protein, globulin, total bilirubin and creatinine concentrations were increased and aspartate transaminase (AST) and creatine kinase (CK) activities were elevated. In chronic besnoitiosis, erythrocyte parameters were statistically significantly lower, and total protein and globulin concentrations were significantly higher in B. besnoiti seropositive compared with B. besnoiti seronegative Limousin cows. Conclusions In this study, altered laboratory parameters during the course of naturally acquired acute, subacute and chronic bovine besnoitiosis are described for the first time. Only a few animals were examined in acute and subacute besnoitiosis, however the alterations of laboratory parameters during these stages reflected i) the acute inflammatory state (e.g. high levels of serum globulin fractions), ii) clinical findings such as disturbed condition (e.g. bilirubin concentrations), and iii) lesions such as muscle necroses described in the literature (e.g. AST or CK activities). Chronic besnoitiosis led to typical alterations of chronic inflammatory diseases like hyper-(gamma)-globulinemia or reduced erythrocyte concentrations.