Tell Me about Canine Leishmaniosis

Martin Wans
Written by
Martin Wans

As a dog owner you will do everything to keep your friend healthy and happy and protect him or her from getting sick, e.g. with canine leishmaniosis. Canine leishmaniosis is a serious disease caused by a parasite called Leishmania infantum, which is transmitted to dogs by infected sand flies. Recently Seresto™ has been approved to reduce the risk of infection with Leishmania infantum for up to 8 months in many European countries, and thereby has been proven to be an effective and long-lasting tool to protect dogs to a large extent from acquiring this dangerous disease.


Leishmania are tiny parasites entering the body of their host through the bite of an infected sand fly. The organisms are recognized and phagocytized by the host's immune cells but survive in the cells and multiply in them. Depending on the individual immune response of the dog, the infection with Leishmania can cause a wide range of variable clinical signs, such as skin lesions, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss and lethargy. Left untreated the disease progresses and finally leads to the death of the dog.1 Last, but not least L. infantum is zoonotic, potentially causing severe disease not only in dogs, but also in humans.

  • 1. BSAVA, Infectious Diseases Factsheet – Leismania, October 2016
Dog with pet owner on sofa
The emotional and physical benefits of having a pet are huge – they are our best friend, a member of the family, a furry shoulder to cry on.

Canine leishmaniosis is spreading

Canine leishmaniosis occurs on almost all continents, but is particularly a problem in Latin America and Southern Europe, where an estimated 2.5 million dogs are infected with L. infantum.1 In Europe endemic areas were traditionally found around the Mediterranean Sea, but the situation is changing. The border of endemic areas is moving north and more and more cases of canine leishmaniosis are diagnosed in places where the disease has not been observed before.

Different reasons contribute to the spread of the disease: Dogs travelling and imported from endemic areas to non-endemic areas are carrying the Leishmania parasites with them, while climatic change is contributing to the spread of the sand fly vector. When both factors come together – a dog carrying Leishmania and sand flies able to transmit the disease – a new endemic focus may develop. It is therefore vital that veterinarians also in non-endemic areas are aware of the disease and are recommending appropriate prevention for dogs travelling to, or living in, endemic areas.

  • 1. Otranto, D. et al. (2013) The prevention of canine leishmaniasis and its impact on public health. Trends in Parasitology. July 2013, Vol 29;7, 339-345
Dog shakes under water sprinkler
Prevention is important to ensure the health and well-being of the animals.

Most important: Prevention!

LeishVet, a non-profit organization of scientists engaged in the research and clinical aspects of leishmaniosis, has published a guideline on the clinical management of leishmaniosis, stating that prevention should include the use of a long-acting topical insecticide throughout the entire risk period of potential exposure to/or activity of sand flies.1

The ability of Seresto™ to prevent an infection with L. infantum was evaluated in 3 clinical field studies, performed in highly endemic areas in southern Italy. In all 3 studies Seresto® significantly reduced the incidence of leishmaniosis in treated dogs compared to non-treated dogs, and the efficacy in preventing an infection ranged from 88 to 100%.234

  • 1. LeishVet Guidelines. Canine and Feline Leishmaniosis., February 2018
  • 2. Otranto D, Dantas-Torres F, de Caprariis D, et al. Prevention of canine leishmaniosis in a hyper-endemic area using a combination of 10% imidacloprid/4.5% flumethrin. PLoS One. 2013, Vol.8, p.e56374.
  • 3. Brianti E, Gaglio G, Napoli E, et al. Efficacy of a slow-release imidacloprid (10%)/flumethrin (4.5%) collar for the prevention of canine leishmaniosis. Parasit Vectors. 2014, Vol.7, p.327.
  • 4. Brianti E, Napoli E, Gaglio G, Falsone L, et al. Field Evaluation of Two Different Treatment Approaches and Their Ability to Control Fleas and Prevent Canine Leishmaniosis in a Highly Endemic Area. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016, Vol.10, p.9.
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Seresto™ has recently been approved in many European countries to reduce the risk of canine leishmaniosis via transmission by sand flies for up-to eight months in dogs.

Thereby Seresto™ is supporting the health and well-being of dogs and their owners and contributing that nothing prevents them from enjoying the happy moments of life together.

Martin Wans
Written by
Martin Wans