What is the role of hamster inoculation in the workup of babesiosis?

Updated: Apr 01, 2021
  • Author: Rachel E Strength, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Prior to the development of PCR testing for babesiosis, when peripheral blood smear and laboratory results were equivocal, the diagnosis could be facilitated by hamster (or gerbil) inoculation. [38] This is now mainly done for research purposes. Suspected B. microti infection could be confirmed through intraperitoneal inoculation of 1 mL of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) whole blood from the patient into the peritoneum of a golden hamster, then performing an antibody analysis of the animal’s blood.

The main disadvantage of this test is that the animal must be checked periodically over a period of 6-8 weeks, which makes the test time- and labor-intensive and renders it impractical for rapid diagnosis.

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