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Vertical Transmission of Babesia microti in BALB/c Mice: Preliminary Report.


Babesia spp. (Apicomplexa, Piroplasmida) are obligate parasites of many species of mammals, causing a malaria-like infection- babesiosis. Three routes of Babesia infection have been recognized to date. The main route is by a tick bite, the second is via blood transfusion. The third, vertical route of infection is poorly recognized and understood. Our study focused on vertical transmission of B. microti in a well-established mouse model. We assessed the success of this route of infection in BALB/c mice with acute and chronic infections of B. microti. In experimental groups, females were mated on the 1st day of Babesia infection (Group G0); on the 28th day post infection (dpi) in the post- acute phase of the parasite infection (G28); and on the 90th and 150th dpi (G90 and G150 group, respectively), in the chronic phase of the parasite infection. Pups were obtained from 58% of females mated in the post-acute phase (G28) and from 33% of females in groups G90 and G150. Mice mated in the pre-acute phase of infection (G0) did not deliver pups. Congenital B. microti infections were detected by PCR amplification of Babesia 18S rDNA in almost all pups (96%) from the experimental groups G28, G90 and G150. Parasitaemia in the F1 generation was low and varied between 0.01-0.001%. Vertical transmission of B. microti was demonstrated for the first time in BALB/c mice.