Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: leishmaniasis

  1. #1

    Exclamation leishmaniasis

    as posted on sotp in 2009:

    some of you may be familiar with this disease. i was not and it nearly killed our dog, causing permanent damage and almost certainly decreased her life expectancy. as many members on here are dog owners, i hope sharing this information can help prevent further trouble.

    leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite, called leishmania. similar to malaria, leishmania cycles between two hosts: sandfly and dog (or human in some places).
    in the dog, the parasite can cause several symptoms which do not all have to be present, making it hard to diagnose. most notably, it will eventually cause kidney failure, ultimately killing the dog.
    this can go relatively fast, but the parasite can also be present in the dog's system for many years before any symptoms are detected. a sneaky brd.

    the leishmania parasite is spread by the bite of the sandfly. it can not be transmitted in areas where the sandfly is not present. its range is most of the tropical and subtropical world, including mediterranean europe. there seems to be some evidence that it is spreading further into europe, and also in north america.

    i am not a veterinarian so will not attempt an in-depth description of how the disease works and what it does in its host. if you are looking for further information an internet search on "leishmaniasis+dog" will give you plenty of hits.

    leishmaniasis can not be cured. it can be controlled with drugs but once the dog has been infected, it's there to stay. a dog that has been infected will have to stay on medication for the rest of its life.
    therefore, the vet who treated our dog says he usually recommends people not to take their dogs to southern europe.

    if left untreated it will sooner or later kill the dog which nearly happened to us. even if no outward symptoms are perceived, a blood test will show if the parasite is present.
    if you have a dog that has some history in southern europe i would strongly recommend such a test so that you can start medication before it is too late.

    our dog, blix came from a shelter and had originally been brought to the netherlands from spain as a stray. last year we took her with us on a trip to portugal. she could have been infected at any of these occasions.
    the vet we were using at the time did not make us aware of the threat that leishmania poses. we only became aware of this by coincidence.

    on a sunday about six weeks ago, we had to bring her to the emergency vet service as she had become extremely weak after not having eaten for a while. she also had been drinking and urinating very frequently.
    because of the urinating problems the original vet had thought she had a bladder infection but that turned out to be wrong. the emergency vet diagnosed kidney failure. a blood test showed that the kidney failure was caused by leishmania. at this stage her kidney function had been reduced to about 25% (you can live with 50% kidney function - anything below that is life threatening).
    blix had to stay at the emergency vet, on the IV for over a week. if we had stuck with the previous vet's idea of a bladder infection she would have been dead already.

    after this it took her several weeks to regain her strength. in a few weeks time we will be able to do further test which will show how much permanent damage her kidneys have received. this will also turn out how much longer we can expect her to live.

    this whole thing could have been avoided if our previous vet had made us aware of the threat, ordered some test and put her on medication as soon as the infection with the parasite was detected. for a dog that is only two and a half years old, a great companion, fast learner and talented retriever, this seems pretty unfair.

    long story short:

    • if you can avoid it, don't take your dog to southern europe (or equivalent areas in north america).
    • if your dog as been in areas where the sandfly/leismania is present, get a blood test done.
    • if leishmania is detected, start treatment as soon as possible - it's just a little pill you give with the food every day.

  2. #2
    since posting the above, there is a relatively new drug that can subdue leishmaniasis for a long period and, in some cases, forever:

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    It is certainly worth highlighting this as it was an illness I had never heard of. That may of course be because it is not in the UK but now that we have the pet passport scheme it is something owners should know about. It is something that would not have crossed my mind if I was thinking about taking Sam to Europe.

    Other than avoiding the areas is there any preventative measures that can be taken? Vaccination or the like?

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  4. #4
    i'm not aware of any prevention other than making sure the dog doesn't get bitten by the sandfly. apparently they are most active from dusk to dawn so keeping the dog inside during those hours reduces the risk.

    it's not here in the netherlands either. which is why it's also not well know here and our first vet didn't know enough of it which almost killed blix at the time. it's really just southern europe that's affected so as long as you don't plan to go to those areas you don't need to do anything specific.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Nice Article!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts