Also called SANDFLY DISEASE
Leishmania (donovani) is a prototozoa ( a one celled organism) that infects the white bloodcells, destroys them and induces an immunologic reaction in dogs.
HOW CAN MY DOG GET IT?
The prototozoa Leishmania spp is transmitted by a vector Phlebotomus (a large mosquito with long stripy hairy wings). Like any mosquito it needs water and vegetation to breed. As the Mediterranean area has both these and also the ideal temperature (Malaga province in particular) it is very common in this area. At dusk and dawn mosquitos are most active and they are drawn to sandy areas where the heat lingers longer - hence the name 'sandfly'. The female sandfly bites to feed on a leishmania infected dog and ingests the leishmania protozoa. On the next feed she will inject the protozoa - which has changed inside the sandfly to the infectious amastigote - in to another dog.
In the host the Leishmania amastigote can be destroyed inmediately which is called cellular immunity. This happens in other species like cats, humans, unless they are immune depressed (elderly, newborn, AIDS etc).
When not destroyed the amastigote will enter a white bloodcell and multiply, causing the white bloodcell to increase in size. It will then ruputure to release more amastigotes into the blood that infect more white bloodcells. The immunesystem of the dog will try to destroy the free amastigotes and create antibodies to neutralize the amastigotes. Other immune cells will try to destroy the 'alien' white bloodcell creating globulines that travel trough the body and cause dammage to the organs.
So 2 things can happen:
1. Your dog has a good immune system and destroys the amastigotes and creates antibodies and becomes a carrier, or 2. Your dog has a bad immune system and more and more white bloodcells get infected and destroyed.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The clinical syptoms of Leishmania are apathy, sadness, weight loss, muscle loss, hair loss, skin ulcers, brittle long nails and lumps. One off the first symptoms can be 'dandruff' on the eartips. In the evolution of the disease eye infections, nervous system disorders, joint infections bleedings may occur. In the terminal phase liver failure and kidney failure will cause death. Treatment is unable to totally eradicate the parasite and recurrences are common.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
With a specific Elisa test ( snaptest ) on a bloodsample, the antibodies can be detected. This will give you a positive or nergative result. It is also possible to do a more quantitive test in a laboratory that gives a titer for the amount of antibodies. It is then important to know how far the Leishmania has damaged the body. A bloodscreening and a haematological profile will be done to determine which treatment will be given.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
A clinically healthy dog with a positive Leishmania test but a normal bloodscreening needs all the help it can get to improve its immunesystem to the maximum. Make sure the dog has no parasites( internal or external), is properly vaccinated, eats the best food, is protected from more Leishmania infestation, and soon to give a new medicine that boosts his immune system.
A clinically ill dog with a positive Leishmania test with skin disease, weightloss,apathy etc but with no organ damage wil be treated with injections (Glucantime) or an oral medication (Milteforan) to reduce the infestation of the leishmania alongside of a treatment with Allopurinol to reduce the globulines. And this dog will also be improved in his immunestatus. And monitored carefully after that.
A clinically ill dog with a positive Leishmania test with organ damage and serious skin disease will be treated the best possible.
No treatment will totally eradicate the Leishmania protozoa from the dogs body therefore it is possible that when the dog gets ill for any other reason and his immunesystem is challenged the Leishmania will reappear to cause symptoms. It is now possible to help these dogs by providing Leishguard 3 times a year during a month to boost his immune system.
HOW CAN INFECTION BE PREVENTED?
No single preventive measure can guarantee a 100 % prevention.
Products that repell the sandfly so it does not bite your dog: the Scalibor collar (functional for 6 month provided it is clean!), Advantix spot on drops (applied every 3!! weeks). Any product that repells mosquitos in the environment. Avoiding the dog to be outdoors during dusk and dawn without protection. Boosting the immunesystem by providing a clean environment, the best food, avoiding other parasitical infections by deworming and deticking at the proper interval, and giving medications that boost this immunesystem even more.
The newly released product called Leisguard will boost the immune system and needs to be given 3 x per year during 1 month.
As of Februari 2012 the vaccination has been registered for the Spanish market. CaniLeish needs to be given 3 x with a 3 week interval after the Leishsmania bloodtest is proven negative and the dog is older than 6 months. Revaccination is annual. The protection however is only 82 %. After the anual revaccination it will be over the 90 %. Therefore it is still important to use preventive measures.