Vets are seeing an increasing number of cases of a serious vector-borne disease in dogs caused by infection with the protozoa Leishmania infantum.

A Phlebotomus species sandfly, a vector of leishmaniasis. Image: CDC/Frank Hadley Collins, director, center for global health and infectious diseases, University of Notre Dame.
A Phlebotomus species sandfly, a vector of leishmaniasis. Image: CDC/Frank Hadley Collins, director, center for global health and infectious diseases, University of Notre Dame.

While not endemic in the UK, more cases are being reported as owners increasingly travel with their dogs to, or adopt dogs from, countries where transmitting sandflies live, including Greece, Italy, Spain and southern France.

The issue is intensified by the fact no compulsory diagnostic test prior to dogs entering the UK exists for the disease.

A delay between infection and the manifestation of symptoms also means many owners are unaware their dog is unwell until they are back in the country.

More frequent cases

Paolo Silvestrini, a lecturer in small animal internal medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: “UK vets need to know about and learn to recognise this disease.

“Canine leishmaniasis is still not well known here in the UK. Vets would not have seen these cases 15 years ago, but they are becoming more frequent now as it becomes easier for pets to travel across Europe and the UK.”

Dr Silvestrini is lead author of the paper “Clinical leishmaniasis in dogs living in the UK”. Researchers retrospectively studied the medical records of dogs diagnosed with the condition at seven referral centres across the UK and found the prevalence was between 0.007% and 0.04%, with more cases in southern England.

It concluded, while rare, leishmaniasis should be considered in the UK if dogs have clinical signs and a history of travel from, or to, endemic countries.

Lectures

Another problem is the topic is not taught enough by vet schools, Dr Silvestrini said.

“I think [the schools] should be giving at least one or two lectures on these emerging infectious diseases that are becoming more frequent,” he said.

Dr Silvestrini lectures third-year University of Liverpool veterinary students and prepares CPD for postgraduates and graduates to ensure future vets are familiar with the disease.

  • Read the full story in the 7 November issue of Veterinary Times.
View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar

wpDiscuz

related content

Vets working at a new hospital outpost in the Gambia will act as sentinels for emerging tropical diseases fast becoming a real threat to equines in the UK.

4 mins

Vets are to be given the chance to shape the way animal abuse is tackled by participating in a new survey that could bring the profession in line with its human medicine counterpart.

5 mins

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham has urged companion animal vets not to “talk down to” clients and understand they are not just treating pets, but also their human owners.

5 mins

Byre Vets in Werrington, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire is the latest to be added to a network of practices located in the nearby towns of Oundle, Thrapston, Corby and Stamford.

4 mins

Leeds-based Beechwood Veterinary Group is inviting pets to free nail clipping clinics to raise money for a local rescue fund that helps pay for the treatment and care of strays.

5 mins

The Veterinary Christian Fellowship is to explore pain management in companion animals via a CPD session at the University of Bristol's vet school in May.

1 mins