A 4–6-mo-old female red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was presented to the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) Teaching Hospital, Prince Edward Island, Canada. On presentation, the fox was weak and had pale mucous membranes. A complete blood count and a serum biochemistry profile were performed. Blood smear examination revealed low numbers of erythrocytes containing centrally to paracentrally located, single, rarely multiple, approximately 1×2 μm, oval to round organisms with morphology similar to Babesia microti. Polymerase chain reaction testing and DNA sequencing of the Babesia species 18S rRNA gene were performed on DNA extracted from whole blood. Results were positive for a Babesia microti–like parasite genetically identical to Babesia (Theileria) annae. The fox was euthanized due to poor prognosis for recovery. Necropsy examination revealed multifocal to locally extensive subacute nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis, an eosinophilic bronchopneumonia, a moderate diffuse vacuolar hepatopathy, and lesions associated with blunt trauma to the left abdominal region. This is the first reported case of a red fox in Canada infected with a piroplasm. It remains uncertain whether the presence of this hemoparasite in this fox was pathogenic or an incidental finding. The potential for competent vectors of Babesia species on Prince Edward Island, the potential for this Babesia microti–like parasite to infect other wild and domestic canids, and the significance of this parasite to the health of infected individuals are yet to be determined.
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Vol. 46 • No. 2