Warning: Hidden Danger From Pet Dogs Discovered

Tsetse Fly

A Tsetse fly. Credit: Wendy Gibson, University of Bristol

Researchers at the Universities of Abuja and Nigeria, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, have detected a potentially human-infective microbe in pet dogs in Nigeria.

Dogs in tropical Africa run the risk of contracting canine trypanosomosis if they are bitten by bloodsucking tsetse flies carrying trypanosomes – microscopic, single-celled organisms found in the bloodstream. In dogs, this disease runs a severe course and is often fatal; “white eyes” or corneal cloudiness is one of the characteristic and obvious signs of the disease.

Sick dogs suspected of trypanosomosis are frequently brought to the University of Nigeria Veterinary Teaching Hospital (UNVTH) in Nsukka, where diagnosis relies on examination of a blood smear under the microscope. While trypanosomes are easily detected by their rapid motion among the blood cells, it is hard to determine the exact species of trypanosome by microscopy alone.


Trypanosomes. Credit: Wendy Gibson, University of Bristol

To help with the diagnosis, Dr. Paschal Umeakuana of UNVTH contacted Professor Wendy Gibson from the School of Biological Sciences, as Bristol’s Trypanosome Research Group has developed molecular-based methods for trypanosome identification.

The collaboration led to the accurate identification of trypanosomes in 19 recent cases of canine trypanosomosis referred to UNVTH and these results are published in the journal Parasites & Vectors.

Wendy Gibson, Professor of Protozoology, said: “To our surprise, we found that two of the dogs were carrying Tbg1, the trypanosome that causes most of the cases of human trypanosomiasis in Africa.”

Human African trypanosomiasis is rarely found in Nigeria nowadays, and indeed elsewhere in tropical Africa, as this deadly disease is now on track for elimination as a public health problem. According to the World Health Organisation, fewer than 1,500 cases were reported in 2017, whereas many countries in tropical Africa suffered devastating epidemics in the last century.

This research was funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Ad hoc scheme administered by the University of Bristol.

Reference: ‘Identification of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense in naturally infected dogs in Nigeria’ by Paschal Umeakuana, Wendy Gibson, Romanus Ezeokonkwo and Boniface Anene, 27 August 2019, Parasites & Vectors.
DOI: 10.1186/s13071-019-3680-8

15 Comments on "Warning: Hidden Danger From Pet Dogs Discovered"

  1. Well I find it interesting..

    E. F.

    • Guess it’s only a matter of time until it reaches the United States. AIDS originated in Africa as well, but it didn’t stay an African epidemic for long before reaching the rest of the world. I hope health officials are keeping tabs on this.

  2. Its definitely interesting,not all of us are closed off to what’s going on in the rest of the world. And you can bet, on it spreading to other countries..

  3. Ignorance is bliss!

  4. Hey Bernard, ur visual arrogance w language begs me to ask if u eat with tht mouth? You had a choice to put ur comment out there w intelligence n respect for urself as well as others and why u do not is so frustrating to me. Why wld u choose to be less? Age old question I guess.

  5. I assume the “I don’t care” comment came from the US?

  6. To the ignorant person AIDS did not originate from Africa . It was created in a laboratory by a guy named Robert gallio its intention was bio-weapon Warfare against the enemy God knows I hate racist ignorant people who just rapped at the mouth and nose nothing

  7. This could also be a man-made biological weapon Since Nigeria is 50% Muslim which hate dogs.

  8. So does a person from Nigeria end in er or ian.

  9. Knowing full well any old body can be flown in an out of our, what were disease free country’s and spread their diseases all around. As all ways happens.

  10. Ann, aids did spread from Africa, originally from monkeys. Having proof it was a particularl person would be interesting for you to prove. By the way ann, learn to spell. Just makes you appear as stupid as you sound.

  11. Anna sounds like she’s a perpetually offend individual probolly wakes up and scans comments everyday to find something to go emo about,

  12. Theresa Lawrence | September 12, 2019 at 7:54 am | Reply

    How awful!!!. Regardless of when & where, these diseases are contracted, it’s good to be informed. Just one more contagion, we all need to pay attention to!!!.
    If it’s not the weather killing mankind & other species, it’s infectious diseases. Sad

  13. This is an infectious disease in Nigerian dogs? It is to my understanding pets like dogs are contained in isolation and observed for six months before being allowed to enter another country

  14. So I guess you would prefer also that you and the rest of the world not know about the Covid-19 outbreak in China because you don’t live or visit there, and it won’t affect you?

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