"We hear that leishmaniosis is becoming commoner in this part of France. Could you explain what the disease is, how it spreads, whether there is a vaccine and an effective treatment for dogs who have it?”
This is indeed a very dangerous and worrying disease and yet many Britons have not heard of it for the very simple reason that it’s prevalent only in subtropical and tropical climates.
Leishmaniosis concerns dogs but can be transmitted to humans. It’s a tiny parasite, carried by the sandfly – or “phlebotome” in French – which requires a warm, humid climate.
Not unlike the mosquito, the sandfly is a small flying insect which feasts on blood but doesn’t make that familiar “buzzing” sound. Sandflies transmit the deadly guest during the bloodsucking and it’s usually during the warmer months from April to October, particularly in early evening after the day’s heat, when the flies are out and about that the disease is contracted.
The symptoms include: wasting, muscle loss, eye ailments: corneal inflammation and conjunctivitis, fur loss, skin problems, etc. The future is dim for such animals as although they can be treated and generally improve in the short term, they often have relapses. As with Malaria, there exists no absolute cure; there exists no vaccination.
The best treatment is prevention: collars, spot-on pipettes to treat for external parasites and to keep away the sandfly. Many preparations only eliminate fleas and ticks and don’t treat sandflies, so make sure to check on the box before purchasing.
From Reporter 111 - Oct/Nov 2005