Canine leishmaniasis (feline infection is very rare) is most common in Mediterranean and South American countries, although occasional cases are also seen in Northern Europe and the southern USA. The protozoan is spread by sandflies.
Clinical signs in dogs include:
Diagnosis depends on identification of amastigotes in lymph-node or bone-marrow aspirates, special culture or (less sensitive) serology.
- skin lesions
- general debilitation due to infection of the major abdominal organs and immune complex formation
- terminal renal failure.
Treatment (meglumine antimonate 100 mg/kg or sodium stibogluconate 50 daily) rarely eliminates the organism; relapses are common.
Dogs are an important reservoir of infection in the Mediterranean region, and, via sandflies, can be a source of human infection. Direct dog-to-human transmission may also occur, but is very rare.
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