Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1000 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.
The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics. This series is along the same lines… but is a ‘Lucky Dip’. I have posts scheduled for another few weeks but that will bring this current series to an end. Another series will begin in the new year.
In this series I will be sharing posts from the half of 2022
Today author and travel writer Jackie Lambert shares the often lethal disease for dogs Leishmaniasis which is common aroung the Mediterranean and anyone travelling with dogs should be aware of the dangers. Living in Spain meant that the vaccination was always included in Sam’s annual jab.
Leishmaniasis, caused by the Leishmania infantum parasite, carried by sandflies, is a severe, incurable disease, which is frequently lethal in dogs. Humans can also contract Leishmaniasis.
The disease is common in Southern Europe, particularly the Mediterranean, and is spreading north as a result of climate change. It is also prevalent in the Middle East, South and Central America, and southern Mexico, and has been reported in some states within the USA.
Geographic distribution of Leishamniosis
What is Leishmaniasis?
In dogs, the disease is caused by a protozoan parasite, Leishmania infantum, which is a single-celled microscopic organism found in dogs, cats, and some rodents.
Symptoms of Leishmaniasis can show up several years after a bite from an infected sandfly.
How Is Leishmaniasis Transmitted
Female sandflies transmit the single-celled Leishmania infantum parasite
The parasite is transmitted between mammalian hosts by female biting sandflies. Like female mosquitoes, they need blood in order to reproduce.
Leishmania infantum can also be transmitted in the following ways:
- from mother to child, female dog to puppy
- through blood transfusion
- through shared syringes
- direct dog to dog transmission through bites or wounds is suspected
Which Parts of Europe Are Prone to Leishmaniasis
Map of Leishmania hotspots in Europe. If you are taking your pet to any of these areas, you should consider vaccination & sanfly control. Enzootic means endemic.
Blood-sucking phlebotomine sandflies need temperatures above 15.6oC for at least three months of the year and can’t easily survive winters below 10oC. With global warming, sandflies are able to survive further north.
- Greece (has one of the highest levels of incidence)
- Southern France, including Corsica
- Italy, excluding the far north
- The Balkans (Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia (coastal), Macedonia (northern), Montenegro, Serbia (southern), Slovenia (coastal).
Leishmaniasis in Humans
Humans can also contract leishmaniasis, but there is not yet a human vaccine. The strains that affect humans are mostly found in the developing world, since the vectors are absent in Europe.
Those with malnutrition or a weakened immune systems are at increased risk of this disease. Humans can carry some species of the Leishmania parasite for long periods without becoming ill. Symptoms depend on the form of the disease – there are more than twenty strains which can infect humans.
As in dogs, the infection can be cutaneous (skin) or visceral (organs). The most common human form is cutaneous. Symptoms can include skin sores that occur weeks or months after the bite. They often clear up without treatment, but can be serious in some cases.
Although the disease can be cured and managed in humans, particularly with early intervention, it can be fatal if not treated.
Symptoms of Leishmaniasis in Dogs
Leishmaniasis can cause one or two types of infection, cutaneous and visceral. Virtually all dogs develop the visceral form, with ninety percent of those showing cutaneous signs. The cutaneous form of leishmaniasis more commonly affects cats.
- A cutaneous (skin) infection
- Thickening and hardening of the tissues on the muzzle and footpads, called hyperkeratosis.
- Many dogs will lose the pigment or dark coloring of these tissues as the disease progresses.
- Nodules or hard lumps may form in the skin and the coat often appears dull and brittle with areas of hair loss. The nails may grow long and curve abnormally.
- A visceral (organ) infection
- Anorexia (lack of appetite)
- Weakness and decreased stamina
- Severe weight loss
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Increased drinking and urination
- Bleeding from the nose
- About one-third of dogs will develop swollen lymph nodes, an enlarged spleen and will progress to kidney failure.
- Muscle pain, joint inflammation, and swelling of the testicles may also be present.
This poor dog we found in Albania is showing symptoms of Leishmaniasis. Sadly, there was nothing we could do for him, other than give him food and water. Bless him, he still managed to wag his tail at us, which broke my heart. If you want to help dogs in Albania, there is a link at the bottom of my blog.
Treatment of Leishmaniasis
There is no cure for Leishmaniasis, all the vet can do is manage the symptoms and the disease. Unfortunately, the medication itself can also cause side-effects. The prognosis for an infected dog is ‘guarded to grave’ due to the potential for organ damage and failure, although some dogs with Leishmaniasis can live a long and happy life. As with most diseases, early diagnosis and treatment is key.
How To Prevent Leishmaniasis in Dogs
Sand fly of the type that will transmit Leishmaniasis.
Photo credit Ray Wilson, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, CC BY Creative Commons.org via Wikimedia Commons
In Europe, the highest risk of sandflies being active occurs between dawn and dusk, from May to October.
1. Physical Precautions:
- Keep your dog indoors when sandflies are active, between dawn and dusk, during May to October. Do not let your dog sleep outside.
- Keep windows and doors closed while sandflies are active, or use nets over open windows and doors.
- Sandflies are attracted to the yellowy-orange light generated by conventional lightbulbs, so it’s doubly important to cover windows if you have the lights on.
- Even if you use other preventatives, such as vaccination or insect repellants, you should observe these physical precautions.
2. Flea and Tick Collars:
These are impregnated with potent insecticides and repellents which release over time to protect your dog against insect bites. The collars should not be used with other parasite treatments in case the medicines contain the same the active ingredients and overdose your pooch, or react with each other.
It is important to note that collars protect against bites, not insect-borne diseases, so it is worthwhile still following the physical precautions above. Also, most collars are NOT effective against the sandflies which carry Leishmania – so speak to your vet or buy from a reputable supplier like Viovet.
- Scalibor Collar – manufactured by Merck Animal Health is impregnated with a potent insecticide and repellent deltamethrin, which is effective in preventing fleas, ticks, sandflies and mosquitoes from biting dogs. As the collar exerts its full effect after one week, the collar should be worn seven days before your pet travels to an affected area. Note – Scalibor is toxic to cats. Click here to view DEFRA’s product information page on Scalibor Collars.
- Seresto Collar – manufactured by Bayer. Although the Seresto collar is licenced for canine leishmaniasis, an Art. 13 review in 2018 by the European Medicines Agency determined its protection against sandflies was ‘variable’. This link also suggests that immersion more than once a month can reduce the product’s effectiveness to 5 months against fleas and 7 months against ticks.
- Broad Spectrum – collars protect against several insects that carry parasites and disease
- Long Lasting – They slowly release the protective chemicals and last for six to eight months, so they covers your dog for the season. Although they are expensive to buy, they probably work out cheaper than a spot on treatment.
We don’t use the collars for a number of reasons:
Sleeping with your dog when wearing a collar – there are mixed reports about whether it is safe to sleep with a dog wearing an insectiside-impregnated collar, but in general we have been advised that it’s fine!
- They must be fitted tightly and worn permanently – or they are not effective.
- They can cause allergy in some dogs, so monitor your pup closely when you use a collar. At least if they do react, you can simply remove the collar.
- Scalibor is toxic to cats – like a number of canine flea and tick treatments, the active ingredient is toxic for felines, so not recommended if you also have cats as pets.
- Getting the Collars Wet – the collars are waterproof in the rain and are still effective if your dog is wet, however;
Certain Shampoos remove the lipid layer in the dogs skin which harbours the active ingredient, and reduce the effectiveness of a Scalibor collar.
Deltamethrin is Harmful to Aquatic Life – the active substance in Scalibor is very harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms, so it is not ideal for dogs who love to swim.
Seresto’s effectiveness reduces over time with frequent immersion.
- Not for use on puppies fewer than 7 weeks old.
- Do not use on dogs with skin lesions – remove the collar until the lesions have healed.
3. Spot On Treatments
It is really difficult to find comprehensive information about many treatments, so this is the best we’ve been able to compile in association with vets and our own research.
Note Advantix and Vectra 3D contain permethrin, which is toxic to cats. Other than Simparica Trio, none of the treatments cover worms.
- Simparica Trio protects against almost everything for one month; mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and most worms, apart from whipworm and tapeworm. It does not protect against sandflies. For further information, click here.
- Vectra 3D – is effective for 1 month against sandflies and mosquitoes.
- Advantix – is a monthly treatment, although its stated effectiveness against sandflies is 3 weeks and mosquitoes 2 weeks.
- Bravecto – is a 3 monthly treatment, best given with food. It is effective against sandflies, but gives 2 months’ protection against ticks.
It is important to understand that vaccination does not prevent infection: it simply strengthens the dog’s immune response and reduces the likelihood of symptoms and suffering.
As such, it is essential still to take physical precautions to prevent bites by staying indoors when sandflies are active, plus using a collar or spot on in conjunction with the vaccine.
Previously, CaniLeish was the only vaccine available. Available since 2011, it requires three injections given at three-weekly intervals, plus a single annual booster. CaniLeish prevents fatal consequences in approximately 90% of cases, and 93% of vaccinated dogs get through a leishmaniasis infection without showing any symptoms.
The Fab Four had LetiFend,, a single-dose vaccine. One month after vaccination, it is 72% effective in prevention of canine leishmaniasis. It requires annual boosters.
Both vaccines can be administered in dogs older than six months, but cannot always be given at the same time as other vaccines.
If you frequently spend time in at-risk areas, it is advisable to get your dog tested regularly for leishmania pathogens and their antibodies, even if your dog is vaccinated. LetiFend does not affect the test, although antibodies generated by CaniLeish can cross-react with some serological tests for the disease.
Leishmaniasis can be carried asymptomatically, so testing can diagnose the infection before it actively erupts, when the organs are still unaffected.
With early diagnosis, medication is extremely effective in alleviating symptoms, and can prevent the pathogens from spreading further.
Some countries where Leishmaniasis and other animal diseases are not present, such as Australia, require blood tests to determine that your dog is disease free. Even if your pet does not show symptoms, they may be denied entry to the country if they test positive for the parasite.
For more information and advice on travelling with dogs, including a printable packing list, check out my Wuff Guide to Travelling with Dogs.
Follow my blog to get updates straight into your inbox as soon as they are published.
The Living with Leish Facebook group offers support and information on diagnosis and treatment of dogs with clinical Leishmania, according to Leishvet protocol. The group has up-to-date information not only from owners of dogs living with Leishmaniasis, but also helpful professionals in the field.
Please note, I am a biochemist but not a vet, and have written this blog as a summary of my own research. As such, you use this information at your own risk. Although I make every effort to ensure that the information I provide is correct at the time of writing, things change all the time and it is essential that you always seek the most up to date advice from a qualified professional. Please see my Disclaimer page for more information.
How To Help Dogs In Albania
Boni – a rescue dog in Albania
There are a lot of dogs in need in Albania. We spoke to a French EU representative in Albania who said that sadly, there is still much corruption in Albania, and the funds for neutering and care of strays does not always reach the intended destination.
The Animal Veterinar Hospital in Fier runs a sanctuary for dogs and cats. Their love of animals is absolutely clear. To thank them for saving our little Kai’s life after he was attacked and badly bitten by a stray, we made a donation to assist the hospital’s work in providing care and sanctuary for stray animals, particularly disabled ones, such as Boni, who Dr. Luiza found in a canal. He was born with the deformity to his legs.
By giving direct, we knew that the money would be used solely for the benefit of the 4 Paws. The vets provide their work and expertise to strays free of charge, but rely on donations to buy food and medicine. You can make a donation via Paypal on firstname.lastname@example.org. Any amount would be much appreciated!
Here are a few of the pups who will benefit at the animal hospital in Fier.
https://www.healthline.com/health/leishmaniasis (in humans)
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/leishmaniasis/disease.html (in humans)
©Jackie Lambert 2022
My thanks to Jackie for letting me share posts from her archives and if you are considering travelling with your dog then I am sure this post will have been extremely helpful. I know Jackie would love to hear from you.
About Jacqueline Lambert
Jacqueline Lambert has long had a passion for travel and adventure. Always a bit of a tomboy, it was an accidental white water rafting trip down the Zambezi that really opened her eyes to the experiences that the world has to offer. The trip was not, as she expected, ‘floating down the river looking at wildlife’.
Somewhere between the adrenaline of tackling Grade 5 rapids in crocodile-infested waters and the raw beauty of sleeping under the stars on the banks of the river, she determined that she was no longer content to live her life in thin slices. She also realised that experience was more important than owning STUFF.
Since then, she has travelled as much as time and budget would allow and has rafted major rivers on every continent except Antarctica. Before meeting her husband, Mark, she took a sabbatical from work. Although she was single at the time, she asked for – and was granted – ‘maternity leave’ to spend several months backpacking around Fiji, Australia and New Zealand!
A keen off piste skier and windsurfer, Jackie is a Team Rider for the UK’s National Watersports Festival, to which she has contributed many articles and blogs about windsurfing. She is also the wordsmith behind her own dog-centric caravan travel blog, World Wide Walkies, which has been featured in the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Newsletter and Dog Friendly Magazine.
She and Mark were made redundant in 2016. In their mid 50s, they decided to give up work, rent out their house and travel full-time with five dogs; their four Cavapoos; Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani and a stray that they adopted in Transylvania whom they named Blade, the vampire slayer.
Books by Jacqueline Lambert
My review for Adventure Caravanning With dogs 9th July 2022
This book is a very entertaining and informative guide to caravanning with four dogs as companions through France.
Never having been on a caravan holiday, I was ignorant of all the technical requirements needed to not just tow this home on wheels, but manoeuvre it on and off pitches, keep it level, attach all the necessary services and avoid damaging critical pieces of the undercarriage.
The author shares her adventures for the preparation of both caravan and drivers before embarking on an ambitious debut extended tour of France. Daunting enough for the novice caravanner but with four dogs in the mix, quite a logistical challenge.
Whilst excellent information on the technical aspects are included, it is accompanied by an easy going and very humourous narration with some very witty double entendres thrown in for good measure.
For those who are planning a touring holiday of France in a caravan the book has a wealth of information on the best campsites for both scenery and facilities, especially when dogs are not always welcome. Certainly a pack is not usually considered to be acceptable despite the four in question being not only adorable but extremely well behaved. Whilst usually the case, apparently fox poop is the exception and then all bets are off. This can be a problem when you find yourself without a water connection and therefore no showers!
I know France reasonably well, but clearly you get to see a great deal more of the coast and inland areas than visits to the usual touristy hotspots. The book left me yearning for the open road and the freedom to stop in more out of the way places where campsites are the only option to stay for the night. A home on wheels definitely has its advantages, and again with four dogs who love to swim and run the beaches, the only sensible option if you take them with you, as hotels would be out of the question.
This is just the first book in the series and I am very much looking forward to reading the others. I finished this one with a smile on my face and a renewed desire for more travel adventures. I can highly recommend this honest, well written and amusing real life adventure.