What is Leishmaniasis?
Leishmaniasis is an infectious and often fatal disease transmitted by sandflies. The disease is caused by a protozoon, which is taken in by the blood sucking sandfly when it feeds on an infected dog and completes part of its lifecycle in the sandfly’s gut.
Sandflies are so called because of their colour. They inhabit all areas not just sandy beaches. Sandflies are prevalent in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as many more popular holiday destinations. They feed at dusk and night and are more active in the summer months. Where possible try to keep your pets indoors as it becomes dusk while abroad.
The disease often starts as facial hair loss and weight loss, spreading to cause damage to the immune system and organs.
The most common symptoms are:
- weight loss
- eye, liver and kidney disease
- skin disease
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is usually made from blood tests or microscopic examination of tissue samples.
If untreated the disease is usually fatal but even with treatment it is not curable as the dog remains permanently infected. Symptoms can develop from a few months to several years after a visit abroad.
You can help protect your dog from Leishmaniasis by using suitable veterinary advised products. These are designed to kill the sandfly that carry the disease. There is also a vaccine available which offers protection against Leishmaniasis all year round. An initial course of 3 vaccines are required followed by an annual booster.
Please ask us about our FREE Travel Clinics which help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip is still active. Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.
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