Canine Leishmaniasis

Canine Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite (Leishmania infantum), which is transmitted to dogs through the bite of small mosquitoes (sandflies).
Leishmaniasis can develop in two ways:
· Cutaneous leishmaniasis: characterized by persistent skin wounds;
· Visceral leishmaniasis: develops in internal organs such as the liver, spleen and bone marrow.

The symptoms are very varied and common to many other diseases, the most frequent being weight loss, hair loss, persistent wounds on the skin that do not heal, eye injuries, general weakness and apathy, irregular fevers, excessive nail growth, increased liver and spleen. However, it is important to note that Leishmaniasis can be asymptomatic, that is, infected dogs may not show signs of disease.
In Portugal, it is considered that almost the entire continental territory is endemic for canine Leishmaniasis, having seen a dramatic increase in the prevalence of this disease in dogs in recent years. Studies carried out in Portugal revealed that the regions most affected are the metropolitan region of Lisbon and Setúbal, the region of Trás-os-Montes Alto Douro, Beira Interior, much of Alto and Baixo Alentejo and the Algarve.
The fact that a dog lives in a region where the risk of infection is lower, does not imply that it is safer, as it is enough that, during holidays or a weekend, it moves to the most affected regions, which constitute a great part of the Continental territory, to be exposed to a risk of greater infection.
Bearing in mind that this is a zoonosis, and therefore, it can be transmitted to humans, its prevention is very important in the protection of public health.

Currently, a vaccine has emerged that can be administered from six months of age. The complete vaccination cycle consists of three injections, with intervals of three weeks, and provides a prolonged internal defense against the symptoms of the infection, according to information from the laboratory that markets it. Protection also requires an annual booster dose of the vaccine to maintain immunity.

The Veterinary Center of Aveiro already has at its disposal this new preventive tool against Leishmaniasis. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

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