In recent years there has been an increase in cases diagnosed with this disease in our area; That is why we will try to explain in a simple way what it consists of… Let’s get to it:
It is a disease caused by a protozoan called leishmania infantum, a parasite that needs two hosts to complete its life cycle, one invertebrate and the other vertebrate. The invertebrate host or vector is the sandfly and the definitive reservoir is the dog on many occasions.
The sandfly is a mosquito that lives in areas with moderate temperatures, low light, high humidity and with the presence of organic or decomposing material that serves as food. That is why our area is becoming more suitable for their survival. These mosquitoes are more frequent in the months of June and September and their busiest hours are sunrise and sunset.
Leishmania transmission occurs at the time of the sandfly bite. The parasite is inside the insect’s digestive tract in a form called a promastigote that has a flagellum (tail) and passes from there to its mouth, from where, if it bites another dog, it will transmit the parasite to it. The sandfly becomes infected by biting a dog carrying the disease and sucking blood in which the promastigotes will go.
How is it transmitted?
Once the parasite is introduced into our pet’s skin, a series of defenses against it are triggered. The main one is phagocytosis by macrophages. Sometimes it manages to dodge said defense and that is when it multiplies and affects different organs. Whether or not the disease develops will depend on whether the parasite is eliminated by the body’s defense cells, its virulence or aggressiveness, as well as the effectiveness of the dog’s immune system.
What are the signs?
The main clinical signs of leishmaniosis, before which we must go to our veterinary center as soon as possible, are: weight loss, skin problems (generalized desquamation on the skin, wounds in the ear and eye area…), joint problems … The signs present a slow but progressive evolution.
This disease cannot be diagnosed only by observing the clinical signs, a blood test being essential to see the serology against Leishmania. In addition, in said analysis we will see the functionality of all the organs.
As reflected, it is a fairly serious disease so prevention is our main weapon to combat it. To repel the bite of the sandfly there are several alternatives. Mainly antiparasitic collars, pipettes and vaccines. Even so, the time between the insect bite and the appearance of clinical symptoms can range from a month to seven years, so we have to put up barriers against the sandfly.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help you.