What is leishmaniasis?
Leishmaniasis is a severe, often fatal disease spread from dog-to-dog by sand fly bites. The disease is particularly prevalent in the Mediterranean but it is a disease which appears to be spreading further north in Europe. Dogs can be bitten up to 100 times an hour during the sand fly season, which runs from May to September and bites are most likely to occur around dawn and dusk.
Symptoms include fever, hair loss (particularly around the ears and muzzle), weight loss, skin sores and poor nails.
What causes leishmaniasis?
Leishmaniasis is caused by a microscopic parasite called Leishmania infantum which is spread via sand fly bites. An infected sand fly bites a dog (usually on the muzzle or ears) and deposits the parasite under the skin, causing a lesion called a chancre. The parasite then attacks the dogs cells damaging the immune system and a variety of body systems leading to serious disorders including skin disease, anaemia, arthritis, eye problems and kidney diseases.
Unfortunately, treatment is often costly and extensive and may not be curative, so preventative measures are advisable if you’re travelling abroad with your pet. For further information, contact your veterinary surgeon.
Some products are licensed to kill sand flies and to help prevent them from biting. For further information, contact your veterinary surgeon.