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Khalazar / Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease caused by the parasite Leishmania, which affects both humans and animals, including dogs. It is prevalent in various regions, including the Mediterranean area. Here is some information about Leishmaniasis in dogs in the Mediterranean:

1. Transmission:
Leishmaniasis is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected female sandflies, belonging to the genus Phlebotomus in the Old World and Lutzomyia in the New World. In the Mediterranean, the specific species responsible for transmitting the disease to dogs is Phlebotomus perniciosus.

 

2. Geographic Prevalence:
Leishmaniasis is endemic in several Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and parts of the Middle East and North Africa. The disease occurrence may vary within different regions, with certain areas having higher infection rates than others.

 

3. Clinical Signs:
Leishmaniasis can manifest in various ways, and the clinical signs may vary from mild to severe. Common symptoms in infected dogs include weight loss, lethargy, poor appetite, skin lesions, hair loss, enlarged lymph nodes, eye abnormalities, and kidney problems. Some dogs may develop a chronic form of the disease and show intermittent or milder signs over an extended period.

 

4. Diagnosis:
Diagnosing Leishmaniasis in dogs typically involves a combination of clinical examination, blood tests, and specific laboratory techniques. These tests may include serological assays to detect antibodies against Leishmania, as well as molecular tests like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect the parasite's DNA.

 

5. Treatment:
There is no known cure for Leishmaniasis, but various treatment options aim to manage the disease and improve the dog's quality of life. Treatment usually involves a combination of medications, such as antimonial drugs, allopurinol, or miltefosine, administered under the supervision of a veterinarian. Regular monitoring of the dog's health and periodic testing for the parasite's presence are essential during and after treatment.

6. Prevention:
Preventing Leishmaniasis in dogs revolves around minimizing their exposure to sandflies. Measures include using insecticide-impregnated collars, applying topical insect repellents, and keeping dogs indoors during peak sandfly activity times (usually dusk and dawn). Additionally, in some areas, vaccination against Leishmania is available and may provide partial protection. Consultation with a veterinarian is recommended to determine the most appropriate preventive strategies based on the specific region and individual dog's risk factors.

7. Control Strategies:
Controlling Leishmaniasis in Mediterranean regions involves a comprehensive approach that includes a combination of vector control, animal management, and public awareness. This may involve measures like reducing sandfly breeding sites, insecticide application in high-risk areas, promoting responsible dog ownership, and educating the public about the disease and its prevention.

It is important for dog owners in the Mediterranean region to be aware of Leishmaniasis and take appropriate measures to protect their pets. Regular veterinary check-ups, preventive measures, and early detection of the disease are key to managing Leishmaniasis and providing the best possible care for dogs in the affected regions.

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