Leishmaniosis is caused by Leishmania infantum, a parasite, transmitted by the bite of female sandflies (small mosquito like insects). The sandfly season is from April to November.
Canine Leishmaniosis is a zoonosis (a disease which is transmitable to humans) which is potentially fatal in dogs, present not only in Portugal, but also in other countries of the Mediterranean Basin and in other countries with similar climates.
Sandflies are small insects whose activity is mainly nocturnal, extending from dusk to dawn.
The quantity of sandflies is strongly dependent on climatic conditions: mild or high temperatures favor the development of sandflies, humidity is also a very important factor for the development and survivalof these insects. Areas with sand, gardens and areas with litter and/or organic matter are optimal sites for the development of these sandflies.
Diagnostic tests for Leishmaniosis should be performed whenever there is a clinical indication or routinely if in endemic areas. In fact, since the disease is very frequent in Portugal, it is recommended that regular screening, preferably annually, be given to all dogs.
Early diagnosis is very important for control and treatment of the infection, as the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the less disseminated the parasite will be and the better the prognosis.
Routine screenings should be done preferably between January and March.
Leishmaniosis is a chronic disease, with very variable clinical signs: progressive apathy; intolerance to exercise; progressive hair loss; scurf; ulcers on the nose and ears; excessive nail growth; epistaxis; weight loss and muscular atrophy.