a disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies
Leishmaniasis is an infectious and contagious disease caused by the parasite Leishmania Infantum transmitted by the bite of small insects, the sand flies ( sand flies ), which in Italy are generally more active from May to October .
The phlebotomist prefers warm climates, such as those of many areas of East Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe, where it is widespread above all in the territories bordering the Mediterranean basin, including Italy.
Other areas at risk are Spain, Portugal, Greece and southern France.
In Italy , the regions considered endemic are Liguria , the coastal areas of the Center-South , especially on the Tyrrhenian side and the islands .
Unfortunately, however, Leishmaniasis is expanding.
If, until a few years ago, the disease was fundamentally localized in areas at risk of phlebotomism, recent epidemiological investigations have also recorded new outbreaks in territories of Northern Italy, until now considered free, including some areas of Piedmont, Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. now present with new outbreaks also in many areas in northern Italy, certainly due to climatic variations combined with greater movement of people and animals.
If you live or have been with your dog in a risk area, ask your veterinarian for a follow-up test.
Leishmaniasis is a zoonosis (a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans), monitored by the National Health Service.
SYMPTOMS OF LEISHMANIOSIS IN DOGS
The incubation period of the disease can last up to 7 years and involves progressive damage of various kinds up to, in the most serious cases, death.
Once it enters the dog’s bloodstream, leishmaniasis occurs mainly in a generalized form, involving various systems and organs. The course is almost always subacute or chronic. In the typical form, also known as viscero-cutaneous, the symptomatological picture is varied and complex.
Among the clinical manifestations in the dog, the following symptoms can be observed:
- lymphadenopathy with enlargement of the explorable lymph nodes, which on palpation are hard, mobile and generally not painful;
- skin lesions, such as dermatitis, alopecia, ulcerations, onychogryphosis (thick and misshapen nails);
- eye lesions, affecting the eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea, sclera and uvea;
- pallor of the mucous membranes (more rarely, the mucous membranes may take on a brick red color, due to liver and kidney suffering);
- weight loss, with or without loss of appetite;
- epistaxis, i.e. blood leaking from the nostrils;
THERAPY OF LEISHMANIOSIS IN DOGS
An early diagnosis of leishmaniasis in dogs promotes the effectiveness of the treatment. The irreplaceable reference for the recognition of the disease is the veterinarian.
The therapy is both specific, i.e. aimed at blocking the action of the parasite, through the use of leishmanicidal drugs, and symptomatic, i.e. useful for controlling the clinical manifestations associated with the progression of the disease.
The treatment, however, does not eliminate with certainty the presence of the parasite, which is why the dog positive for leishmaniasis will often have to undergo specific clinical tests, to monitor the progress of the protozoal infection and provide for new therapeutic cycles, if necessary.
Available, recently introduced on the market. Ask your vet for directions.
Other forms of prevention
Use of topical and other pesticide products prescribed by the veterinarian, specific against sand flies.
In endemic areas, keep pets indoors at night.
In this case more than in other times, our suggestion is to always consult your veterinarian and not to replace his fundamental and indispensable help. Internet and articles like this only serve to inform and raise awareness on some issues, they do not want and must never replace the final judgment of a veterinarian.