What is Leishmaniasis and what is the cause?
- a disease caused by a protozoan parasite names Leishmania
- transmission is by vector, an infected sandfly
- the disease can have several forms, but most common forms affect the skin or the internal organs
Where does Leishmania occur?
- many countries of the world (Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean, China, the Middle East, India, and the Caribbean)
- cases in the U.S. are rare and typically occur in individuals returning where the disease is more common and have sand flies
- infected sand flies have been reported in southern Texas
- leishmaniasis has been reported in 21 states and Canada
What animals can get Leishmaniasis?
- dogs, coyotes, foxes and rodents can get infected and harbor the parasite
- cats and horses can occasionally get infected
How can my animal get infected?
- by a bite from an infected sandfly (vector disease)
How does the disease affect my animal?
- the skin form of leishmaniasis develops as a non-itchy, dry, flaky and hairless areas on the muzzle, around the eyes, ears and/or on the feet
- lesions may start on the footpads (hard pad disease)
- other symptoms may be fever, loss of energy and appetite, loss of weight and exercise intolerance
Can I get infected by Leishmaniasis?
- yes, but not with a contact with an infected animal
- transmission of the disease occur from a bite of an infected sandfly (vector disease)
- your animal can serve as a reservoir (source of the parasite for the sandflies)
- most people get infected by traveling to areas where the disease is common
- symptoms may take months to develop and may affect the skin or the internal organs
- skin symptoms start with itchy, raised bumps which usually ulcerate and scab
- skin lesions may leave permanent scars
- when the internal organs are involved, it can affect the liver, spleen and may cause changes to the blood
- if not treated may cause death
Who to contact if you suspect Leishmaniasis?
- for you animal – contact your veterinarian
- for you or a friend – contact a physician
How to protect my pet from Leishmniasis?
- dogs living in areas with sandflies should be kept indoors from dusk till dawn (when the insects are most active)
- spot-on protection against sandflies
How to protect myself from Leishmaniasis?
- if travelling to areas where sandflies live, limit your outdoor activities from dusk till dawn
- if you must be outside, wear long sleeves and pants
- use insect repellents that contain DEET
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