Canine leishmaniosis is caused by the protozoan Leishmania infantum, which is found in most continents1. L. infantum is most commonly transmitted through the bite of sand flies and Bayer says there is a growing concern among parasitologists that the distribution of the disease is increasing due to climate change and more frequent pet travel.
Dr. Markus Edingloh, Head of Global Veterinary Scientific Affairs at Bayer Animal Health, said: "We are seeing more cases of canine leishmaniosis in areas where the disease had not previously been found. Dogs travelling and imported from endemic areas are of particular concern for introduction of the disease, while climate change is contributing to the spread of the vector.
It is therefore vital that veterinarians are aware of the disease and are recommending appropriate protection for dogs travelling to, or living in, endemic areas."
In dogs, there are a wide range of potential clinical signs associated with leishmaniosis including generalised lymphadenopathy, weight loss, lethargy, pyrexia, cutaneous lesions, ocular lesions and neurological or vascular disorders, while the severity of disease can vary from mild to life threatening2,3. In humans L. infantum tends to be responsible for the most severe form of leishmaniosis, visceral leishmaniasis, which can be fatal.
While distribution is worldwide, L. infantum is particularly prevalent in South America and the Mediterranean, with annual cases of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis in people estimated to be 3,500 in Brazil and 875 in the Mediterranean1.
In some areas, over 80% of canine leishmaniosis cases may be asymptomatic1. However, the infection level in asymptomatic dogs is such that these dogs, in addition to the dogs showing clinical disease, can still be responsible for the spread of disease4. Therefore protection against infection to help control spread is vital for both human and dog health, as clinical cases will not always be obvious.
The non-profit scientific association, LeishVet, recommends that prevention should include the use of a long-acting topical insecticide throughout the period of sand fly activity: "Long-acting topical insecticides applied to dogs living in or travelling to endemic areas should be maintained during the entire risk period of potential exposure to/or activity of sand flies."
Bayer says that Seresto, which contains imidacloprid and flumethrin in a slow release collar, has been found to significantly reduce the risk of infection with Leishmania infantum in dogs for up to eight months. Three clinical field studies, performed in endemic areas, indicated a significant reduction in the risk of Leishmania infantum transmission by sand flies in treated dogs compared to non-treated dogs. The efficacy in the reduction of the risk of infection with leishmaniosis ranged from 88.3 to 100% 5,6,7.
For more information, visit www.vetcentre.bayer.co.uk/seresto.
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"The efficacy in the reduction of the risk of infection with leishmaniosis ranged from 88.3 to 100%"
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Clinical Editor: Alasdair Hotston Moore MA VetMB CertSAC CertVR CertSAS FRCVS
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