Leishmaniasis is the name given to different forms of a certain disease that differ greatly in their seriousness and health effects. The disease is caused by protozoan parasites.

Leishmaniasis is transmitted when female phlebotomine sandflies ingest amastigotes (intracellular forms of the protozoan parasite) during blood meals on infected animals.

Two main types of leishmaniasis are present in Spain. They may be classified according to their clinical signs as visceral leishmaniasis and cutaneous leishmaniasis. Both coincide in that:

  • The agent that causes both of them is L. donovani infantum
  • The vectors that are mostly involved in transmission are the females of sandflies belonging to the same genus: Phlebotomus perniciosus and P. ariasi.
  • The most important proven reservoirs in Spain are dogs (which are, at the same time, hosts susceptible to the disease)

Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as Kala-azar, is an endemic disease that tends to be chronic and especially afflicts children. In the last few years it has frequently infected people with AIDS and people receiving immunosuppressant drugs (cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, etc.).

In dogs, the incubation period may last months or even years. Signs of infection vary depending on the type of leishmaniasis (cutaneous, mucocutaneous or visceral), and generally include weight loss, hair loss, onychogryphosis (claw nails), enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen or liver, etc.

Did you know...

The sudden appearance of lumps or scars, sores that do not heal, weight or appetite loss or difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating are signs that your pet may have cancer

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