Recently, a dog died from the parasitic disease leishmaniasis in the UK. This is the first case ever reported of a dog dying of such a tropical disease in the UK.
The dog belonged to Shih Tzu breed and was only 3 years old. The dog lived with its family in Hertfordshire. It suddenly fell ill with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In around three weeks, it lost a lot of weight. As the dog has never been outside the UK, the vets believe that the dog may have caught the Leishmania infantum parasite from another dog it used to live with. The other dog was put down after coming from Spain as it started showing symptoms of leishmaniasis.
It is known that dogs cannot transmit leishmaniasis directly to humans, however, sand flies can act as a carrier for the parasite. If the sand flies bites the affected dog and then bites people, the infection can be passed on. The dog was examined by a team at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK, led by Myles McKenna, from the department of clinical science and services.
‘To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported case of leishmaniosis in the UK in a dog without a history of travel to an endemic area,’ they wrote in the BMJ journal Vet Record.
‘In an era of increased foreign travel of dogs and increased importation of dogs to the UK, it is likely that the number of dogs seropositive for L. infantum will continue to increase. Leishmania-infected dogs may present an infection risk to other dogs, even in the absence of natural vectors, as direct transmission between dogs is possible.’
Leishmaniasis is transmitted via sandflies, but infected dogs can spread the disease by biting other canines.
A veterinary examination of the Shih Tzu revealed he was deficient in all three blood cells – red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body; white blood cells, which make up the immune system; and platelets, which cause blood to clot. He also had an elevated level of calcium in his blood, as well as an abnormally high amount of the protein globulin, which is usually a sign of liver disease.
The dog’s bone marrow and skin was biopsied. It revealed that the dog’s system was indeed infected with the L. infantum parasite. This is one of the 20 parasites known to cause the disease Leishmaniasis. Another incident of leishmaniasis also came to light in the UK.
Old Dog Case With Leishmaniasis
A 3 year old English Pointer dog was identified with the disease. The odd thing to note was that even this dog has never been outside the country. He was diagnosed after the dog started showing symptoms such as eczema and hair loss. The dog’s owners had lived in Spain and also traveled to Alicante and Valencia. It is suspected that the owners may have brought sand flies in their luggage which may have bitten the dog. This dog’s case was written up in Vet Record by a team at Mount Veterinary Practice in Fleetwood, Lancashire.
They noted that the increased importation of infected dogs into the UK, along with dog socializing, increases the chances of contact with infected dogs. A study by The British Small Animal Veterinary Association show that some of the dog breeds such as Ibizian hounds, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels and Boxers may be are at less risk of contracting this disease as they have resistance to certain Leishmania strains.
Daniella Dos Santos, junior vice president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: ‘The increase in cases of non-endemic diseases such as leishmaniasis is extremely concerning. More than a quarter of vets surveyed by BVA last year mentioning [reported] seeing cases of this rare disease in practice. Leishmaniasis is mainly associated with pets who have recently traveled outside of the UK or “trojan” rescue dogs from abroad with unknown health histories’.
Source: Daily Mail Online