What is Leishmaniosis?
It is a disease that is caused to dogs by a parasite (Protozoarian, Leishmania), that invades different organs, causing considerable damage or even death.

How is it transmitted?
Through an insect similar to mosquitoes called flebotomo.
The transmission of the parasite usually happens when an infected flebotomo stings a dog (especially at dusk).

Flebotomo
The flebotomo is a very small insect, similar to mosquito that can transmit Leishmaniasis. The Flebotomo is much smaller than a mosquito. It is difficult to see or hear it, as it does not buzz when flying. Only the females sting, because they need blood to develop their eggs. Males feed themselves from sugars and plants. Adult females are active in the evening hours and transmit diseases to dogs and humans alike.

How to diagnose Leishmaniosis?

It is needs a clinical examination and a set of specific tests to diagnose.

Main Symptoms

Hair fall, loss of weight, vomits, general weakness, apathy, irregular episodes of fever, persistent wounds that would not heal (skin leishmaniasis), inflammation of the liver and spleen (visceral leishmaniasis), exaggerated nail growth.
 
Could an affected dog transmit it to a human?

This disease is not directly transmissible from dogs to humans.

The necessary steps for transmission are:

1st - A flebotomo stings a dog with Leishmaniasis.
2nd - Around a week after the flebotomo will become a vector of the infection.
3rd - The same flebotomo stings a human or a dog and inoculates the parasite.

Prevention It is important to prevent leishmaniasis by repelling the mosquitoes. Note however than not all products that are supposed to repell fleas, ticks and mosquitoes act also on the mosquito of leishmaniasis. Among those that do there are: spot-on of Advatix, Frontline Combo and Pulvex. Those spot-ons need to be put every 4 weeks. Another way of protection is an anti-parasite collar Scalibor whose effectiveness lasts around 4 months.

Treatment The disease is not entirely curable but it can be treated and controlled. There are a few ways of treating leshmaniosis. In Bianca we have assumed one of them. First the dog needs to undergo a series of 30 injections of Glucantime. This can be done every day or every second day, depending what the vet advises on the basis of the exam of the dog and it general condition (especially liver). After this treatment the dog will have to take a pill of Alpurinol for 10 consecutive days in every month (some vets however prescribe it one pill a day continuosly). Alpurinol is an affordable medication. In that way leishmaniasis is controlled and a dog can live healthy for many years.

Vaccination So far no vaccination against leishmaniose exists. Recently however, in March 2011, the European Medicines Agency approved for the European market vaccine CanilLeish(R) by Virbac which is already available in Portugal.

See: http://www.euronext.com/news/companypressrelease/companypressrelease.jsp?docid=971731&lan=EN&stockNews=true&cha=1721

ATTENTION: these are only general tips, every treatment is on case by case basis so if your dog has leishmaniasis you should consult the vet.