Vector-borne disease prevalence in dogs with proteinuria

July 21, 2020
Michael Nappier, DVM, DABVP
Michael Nappier, DVM, DABVP

Michael Nappier is assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.

dvm360, dvm360 July 2020, Volume 51, Issue 7

A new study attempts to understand the potential associations between vector-borne diseases and proteinuria in a southeastern U.S. canine population.

Proteinuria can be a significant finding, indicating nephropathy and serving as a potential marker for progression of renal disease. While some causes of renal disease and proteinuria cannot be treated, identifying those that can be treated is vitally important. Vector-borne diseases are one cause of inflammatory glomerular nephritis. Vectors include Babesia canisBabesia gibsoniEhrlichia canis, spotted‐fever group RickettsiaBartonella vinsonii spp. berkhoffiiBartonella henselaeBartonella koehleraeAnaplasma spp., hemotropic Mycoplasma spp., B burgdorferi, and Dirofilaria immitis. Understanding the prevalence of these diseases in proteinuric dogs could guide clinicians as to how important testing for these organisms might be in the clinical setting.

The authors of a new study looked retrospectively at records from the North Carolina State University Veterinary Hospital and the North Carolina State University Vector Borne Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for dogs with a submitted vector-borne disease test result and proteinuria.1 Demographic, clinicopathologic, and vector-borne disease test results were extracted from medical records of 209 dogs seen at the veterinary hospital between 2008 and 2015. These results were then compared with those of all 7,202 canine vector-borne disease tests submitted to the Vector Borne Disease Diagnostic Laboratory during that time period (control group).

The authors found that the incidence of vector-borne disease was higher in the proteinuric dogs than in the control population. The major differences were in Rickettsia and B. burgdorferi exposure. Overall, 34% of proteinuric dogs were seropositive for a vector-borne disease, with Rickettsia (19%), B. burgdorferi (9%), and Ehrlichia (12%) being the most common findings.

Although the authors did not prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between vector-borne disease and proteinuria, they did prove that vector-borne disease is common in proteinuric dogs in North Carolina and should be considered as a cause of the proteinuria.


1. Purswell EK, Lashnits EW, Breitschwerdt EB, et al. A retrospective study of vector‐borne disease prevalence in dogs with proteinuria: Southeastern United States. J Vet Intern Med. 2020;34(2):742-753. doi:10.1111/jvim.15610

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