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Background: Dogs seized by law enforcement agencies during dogfighting investigations are at increased risk of Babesia gibsoni infection. A rapid and cost-effective diagnostic test would increase the feasibility of mass screening of dogs for infection and monitoring treatment efficacy in B. gibsoni-infected dogs.

Objective: To determine the performance of a point-of-need insulated isothermal PCR (iiPCR) test for diagnosis of B. gibsoni in dogs rescued in dogfighting investigations.

Animals: Two hundred and thirty-three dogs seized in dogfighting investigations.

Methods: Cross-sectional study. Whole blood samples were tested for B. gibsoni and Babesia spp. by iiPCR. Results were compared to a reference standard comprised of concordant results from real-time PCR in a commercial diagnostic laboratory and antibody titers.

Results: The iiPCR system was quick to learn, portable, and had a short processing time of <2 hours. Sensitivity and specificity of the iiPCR assay for B. gibsoni were 90% (95% confidence interval [CI] 81-95%) and 99% (CI, 95-100%), respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of the iiPCR assay for Babesia spp. were 87% (CI, 78-93%) and 98% (CI, 0.94-99%), respectively.

Conclusions and clinical importance: The iiPCR system produced few false-positive results, indicating that positive results are likely to represent true infections when used in high-risk animals. The iiPCR system can fail to identify 10-15% of truly infected dogs. However, the portability, speed, and economy of the iiPCR system compared to testing through a reference laboratory can allow rescue groups to screen and identify infection in more dogs.

Keywords: Babesiosis; Canine; Pit bull; iiPCR.